The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics seeks to strengthen teaching and research about pressing ethical issues; to foster sound norms of ethical reasoning and civic discussion; and to share the work of our community in the public interest.
For the Record
‘For the Record’ is a feature where our Fellows-in-Residence and Graduate Fellows have a chance to present their research ideas informally, reflect on their experience at the Center, or report on Center events.
This month's For the Record comes from Fellow-in-Residence Ari Schick, this year’s Tel Aviv University Exchange Fellow. Ari’s work focuses on speculative bioethics and the governance of emerging technologies.
Brain Death at Fifty and the Next Fifty Years of Public Bioethics Discourse
by Ari Schick
One aspect of my research examines how bioethics discourse has developed in relation to particular technologies and technological imaginaries, and more broadly, the past and continuing role of bioethics in addressing issues of broad public concern. One such issue, brain death, was recently the subject of the annual conference organized by Harvard Medical School’s Center for Bioethics, which I had the opportunity to attend.
The occasion for the conference’s theme was the 50th anniversary of the influential report, “A Definition of Irreversible Coma,” published in 1968 by the Ad Hoc Committee of the Harvard Medical School to Examine the Definition of Brain Death. Under the leadership of Henry Beecher, the Committee was organized in response to the new phenomenon of patients being kept on mechanical ventilators without signs of neurological functioning. Read more