The PVS Condition: Toward an Intregration of Science, Social Science, and Ethics

Prof. Howard M. Ducharme
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The PVS condition of Terri Schiavo manifested multiple interdisciplinary conflicts between science and philosophy (what is the PVS condition, is there a person present, is there a living human being present, is the soul present, is life present); between medicine, bioethics, public policy, and social science (is it an act of killing, allowing to die, or neither to terminate treatment on a PVS patient); and the public clash of social and religious worldviews on what actions are justifiable and unjustifiable. This paper develops an integrated, holistic answer on these issues, being a model for use on how the individual disciplines have limits but interdisciplanary discourse can create enlightenment, if not actual solutions.

Keywords: PVS, Persistent Vegetative State, Person, Soul, Paradigm, Worldview, Ethics, Bioethics, Mind, Life, Pluralism, Religion
Stream: Psychology, Cognitive Science and the Behavioural Sciences, Politics, Public Policy and Law, Other or Stream Unspecified
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Howard M. Ducharme

Chair & Professor, Department of Philosophy, Chair & Professor, Department of Philosophy
Intellectual Property Center Fellow, School of Law, University of Akron


My work is primarily focused on the nature of a person as a moral agent and the numerous interdisciplinary topics this engages, e.g., questions of bioethics (when do persons come into and go out of existence, how should the Persistent Vegetative State be understood and ethical decision-making about it, does neuroethics disprove moral agency) and issues in science & religion (the nature of consciousness and the soul, evolutionary ethics and synderesis). My academic background includes BA in Chemistry, Biology, and Philosophy; MA in Philosophy of Religion, and DPhil from Oxford University on the moral nature of the mind. I was the Director of an international, interdisciplanary conference in 2001 on the science, ethics, law, social and religious issues of engineering human life.

Ref: I06P0028