Death is a Biological Phenomenon

Don Marquis

About author

Don Marquis, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy
The University of Kansas
529 Tennessee St. Lawrence, KS,



John Lizza says that to define death well, we must go beyond biological considerations. Death is the absence of life in an entity that was once alive. Biology is the study of life. Therefore, the definition of death should not involve non-biological concerns.

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  1. Lizza J.P. (2018), “Defining Death: Beyond Biology,” Diametros 55: 1–19.
  2. Marquis D. (2010), “Are DCD Donors Dead?” Hastings Center Report 40 (3): 24–31.
  3. President's Commission for the Study of Ethical Problems in Medicine and Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1981), Defining Death: A Report on the Medical, Legal and Ethical Issues in the Determination of Death, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington (DC).
  4. Shewmon D.A. (2001), “The Brain and Somatic Integration: Insights into the Standard Biological Rationale for Equating ‘Brain Death’ with Death,” Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (5): 457–478.
  5. Warren M.A. (1973), “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion,” The Monist 57 (1): 43–61.


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