How dementia may tip the scales: Reconsidering the balance between critical and experiential interests

Location
ERI 149
Category
Arts and Law, Lectures Talks and Workshops, Research, Students
Dates
Wednesday 23rd May 2018 (15:15-17:00)
Download the date to your calendar (.ics file)

Philosophy PGR seminar series 2017/18

  • Speaker: Emily Walsh
  • Title: How dementia may tip the scales: Reconsidering the balance between critical and experiential interests

The Philosophy department's PGR seminar is an opportunity for postgraduate research students at Birmingham to present the material they are working on to the department's staff and other students. The seminar meets roughly on fortnightly Wednesdays from 15:15 to 17:00 in the ERI. All welcome!

Abstract

Ronald Dworkin argues that in cases where an agent is experiencing late-stage dementia and in which their current preferences as to their care are in conflict with their advance directive, the advance directive should be implemented on grounds of well-being. In this paper, I present two objections to his view. I begin by rejecting Dworkin’s central claim that severely demented agents have no sense of what is fundamentally important to them. Dworkin calls interests which reflect what is fundamentally important to us, ‘critical interests.’ I argue that his claim that severely demented agents do not have a sense of their critical interests isn’t true in all cases of severely demented agents. In cases where Dworkin’s claim is true, and the severely demented agent does lack this ability, I argue that his conclusion still does not follow because he inappropriately judges that an agent’s best interests should be determined by the critical interests the patient no longer recognises. I conclude that Dworkin’s view, in its current form, is unwarranted. ​