More Dead than Dead?: Attributing Mentality to Vegetative State Patients

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


In a recent paper, Gray, Knickman, and Wegner (2011) present three experiments which they take to show that people perceive patients in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) to have less mentality than the dead. Following on from Gomes and Parrott ( Gomes, A., & Parrott, M. (forthcoming). Epicurean aspects of mental state attributions. Philosophical Psychology.[Google Scholar]), we provide evidence to show that participants' responses in the initial experiments are an artifact of the questions posed. Results from two experiments show that, once the questions have been clarified, people do not ascribe more mental capacity to the dead than to PVS patients. There is no reason to think that people perceive PVS patients as more dead than dead.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-95
Number of pages12
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number1
Early online date14 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016