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Subject: English and literature
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What's the Difference Between Terry and Terri? By Terence Jeffrey ...[Show More]

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In the article ‘What’s the Difference Between Terry and Terri’, Terence Jeffrey argues that the deliberate killing of Terri Schiavo by dehydration in Florida is a mistake doctors cannot erase (Jeffrey, 2006). He puts across his argument in light of the Terry Wallis case where after a terrible accident and landing in a coma, then a ‘vegetative state’, and finally ‘a minimally conscious state’, Wallis was able to talk after nineteen years of utter silence. Something his doctor, James Zini, called a miracle. Another ‘miracle’ claimed by neurologists is the case of Donald Herbert who suffered a decade long vegetative state and spoke after ten years. There is no logic for separating between the two cases with that of Terri as the author argues out. It is fallacious to claim the existence of a ‘perceived difference’ between the vegetative states of Terry and Terri. The fallacy in this case is a logical fallacy on the neurologist’s part (Floridi, 2009). On one hand, it is formal in the sense of a base rate fallacy where the patients in comparison have suffered similar predicaments but since there is no conclusive evidence to differentiate the circumstances, the doctors use weak evidence to make a probability judgment. This is done by labeling Terri’s state as a persistent vegetative state. The informal part of it is known as a regression fallacy (Korb, 2004). Failure of the neurologists to explain the recovery of speech in Terry’s case and ascribing it to a miracle means that no research has been carried out to account for such so they resort to fallacious claims. The author has intentionally used the two logical fallacies to show that the doctors made unfounded assumptions in killing Terri Schiavo. The author is successful in doing so by documenting two cases of unexplained speech recovery from the same vegetative state that Terri was in (Jeffrey, 2006). What the author wants to put across in bringing out these fallacies is that the doctors have not done enough research to y define what they would call a permanent vegetative state to warrant mercy killing of patients in such a state. References Floridi, L. (2009). Logical fallacies as informational shortcuts. Synthese, 167 (2), pp. 317--325. Jeffrey, T. (2006). What's the difference between Terry and Terri? Health Matters, 24th July, p. pg 5. Korb, K. (2004). Bayesian informal logic and fallacy. Informal Logic, 24 (1).

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