Bizarrely I did not take notes so I cannot share the wisdom provided by Dr. Fins. I vaguely recall the point of the lecture was to describe the differences between the often confused consciousness disorders (locked-in syndrome vs. minimally conscious state vs. vegetative state vs. persistent vegetative state vs. permanent vegetative state vs. coma). My decision-making processes on 09/17/13 were obviously impaired. So a quick internet search today revealed the following information regarding the disorders of consciousness: A locked-in syndrome is typically defined as a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles in the body except for the eyes; a minimally conscious state (MCS) is typically defined as a condition of severely altered consciousness in which minimal but definite behavioral evidence of self or environmental awareness is demonstrated; a vegetative state (VS) is typically defined as a disorder of consciousness in which patients with severe brain damage are in a state of partial arousal rather than true awareness; a persistent vegetative state (occasionally referred to as a continuous vegetative state) is typically defined as a patient in a vegetative state for more than four weeks; a permanent vegetative state (PVS) is typically defined as a patient in a vegetative state for more than one year; and a coma is typically defined as a state of unconsciousness lasting more than 6 hours in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli or light or sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle, and does not initiate voluntary actions.
These terrifying consciousness disorders are important to libertarian bioethicists (and bioethicists in general) because patients and families and medical practitioners face a host of bioethical issues when dealing with patients with these disorders.