People in such a state have serious brain damage as a result of an accident or stroke. This often means they have no hope of regaining consciousness. Yet because parts of their brains that run activities such as breathing are intact, their vital functions can be sustained indefinitely.
When, if ever, to withdraw medical support from such people, and thus let them die, is always a traumatic decision. It depends in part, though, on how the fully alive view the mental capacities of the vegetative—an area that has not been investigated much.
That those who believe in an afterlife ascribe mental acuity to the dead is hardly surprising. That those who do not are inclined to do so unless heavily prompted not to is curious indeed. more…
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