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The search for a universal definition of death is a relatively new objective in human history, framed by complex biological, technological, and socio-political factors. While it is widely understood that “life” and “death” describe inverse states of being, what separates these two states has been vigorously debated by scientists, ethicists, and theologians. Far from merely an academic distinction, the definition of death has implications that extend to end-of-life healthcare, organ transplantation, and inheritance law. This review explores the historical and current definitions of death in the United States, the role of technological advances, and the resultant social and legal applications.
This article is a draft of a paper on the neuroethics surrounding the end of life, including a historical and legal review of definitions of death.