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Finding ConsciousnessThe Neuroscience, Ethics, and Law of Severe Brain Damage$
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Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190280307

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190280307.001.0001

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Moral Conflict in the Minimally Conscious State

Moral Conflict in the Minimally Conscious State

(p.160) 10 Moral Conflict in the Minimally Conscious State
Finding Consciousness

Joshua Shepherd

Oxford University Press

This chapter explains the values that conflict in choices of whether to let brain-damaged patients die. The author argues for the moral significance of consciousness, including not only phenomenal consciousness but also access consciousness, because it brings abilities. Nonetheless, other values, including autonomy and distributive justice, can conflict with the well-being of patients who have only minimal kinds of consciousness. These conflicts come to a head when a patient in such a state asks or previously asked to die. The considerations, as well as informational deficits at the time of the decision, are important to consider in regard to advance directives.

Keywords:   consciousness, vegetative state, minimally conscious state, death, disability, pain, brain damage, neuroscience, fMRI, ethics

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