The Inner Life of Vegetative Patients and Why It Matters

MRI

Here’s the latest draft of my paper on covert consciousness in the vegetative state, which is still very much a work-in-progress. If you compare it to the earlier draft I posted, you can see I am taking the paper in a more bioethical direction, which is a whole new ballgame for me. Comments welcome.

Abstract: Adrian Owen and colleagues (2006 et al.) report using functional neuroimaging to detect residual levels of conscious awareness in patients diagnosed with vegetative state syndrome. These studies have generated immense scientific and public interest largely due to the putative moral significance of consciousness. These findings raise vexing philosophical and ethical questions about the nature of consciousness and its moral significance. My goal in this paper is to critically examine these findings and evaluate their significance from a clinical-ethical perspective. The general lesson is that determining the moral significance of consciousness is complex and multifaceted.

Link to PDF: Williams 4-24-14-InnerLifeofVegetativePatients

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5 Comments

Filed under Consciousness, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy, Psychology

5 responses to “The Inner Life of Vegetative Patients and Why It Matters

  1. jim stone

    Might check this out. Jim Stone, ‘Pascal’s Wager and the Persistent Vegetative State.’ Bioethics 21 (2):84–92, 2007.

  2. Thanks for posting this. Pretty comprehensive effort. Super important topic in rehab science, glad to see you took a long look at the CRS.

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