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Ethics, Terri Schiavo and Permanent Vegetative State

If Terri Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, and if people in PVS have permanently lost the ability to think, was Terri Schiavo still a person? If Terri Schiavo was not a person, was removing the feeding tube an act of murder?

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This is rather tricky. What in fact is a human being? Is the human being a rational animal as Aristotle claimed? Actually what Aristotle said was that the human being is a talking animal, talking presupposes a community, an 'other' who is like one and with whom one NEEDS to communicate. This is why for Aristotle the human being is a social (or political) animal. Anyway, from this we can deduce that the most important thing about the human being is the ability to communicate with other human beings, the ability to recognize them as human and also be recognized as human by them.

A human baby who never lived with other humans, let us say the baby was brought up by chimps, will never be 'human.' The main reason is that past a certain age, this being will never be able to talk like a human being. For this see the links to the phenomenon of 'the feral child': (, (

Recently a baby was born in England with severe medical condition to the point that in all its 9 months of existence, it was in intensive ...

Solution Summary

This post looks at the phenomenon of Permanent Vegetative State (PVS) and sicknesses in general that affects the normal functionning of the human brain, raising the question of the intrinsic value of human life. When is it right to let a human being die and it would not be murder? Does the human being have an absolute value? These are some of the question addressed in this post.