After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver

Norman L. Cantor
After We Die: The Life and Times of the Human Cadaver

Steven Shapin writes:

Cantor is a lawyer and his book’s centre of gravity is the contemporary American legal, political and ethical debate over what can and should be done with human remains. It’s a broad survey of the ways modern corpses are thought about and dealt with: the determination of death, what you may and may not legally do with a corpse and its parts, the changing forms of American funeral practice, the purposes and performance of autopsies, the law and ethics of organ donation and transplantation. Cantor is a secular modernist, an enthusiastic member of the dead meat school. Death is both the end of the matter and, so far as you are concerned, the end of mattering. Your family and friends may care, but they should know that you’re past caring, and so whatever they do with your meaty remains should logically be done for their sake, and for the sake of overall human welfare – not for yours. (The law, as he goes on to show, can take a different view.)

(LRB 14 April 2011)

Published by Georgetown University Press
14 October 2010
ISBN: 9781589016958