Dementia in Our Midst: The Moral Community
Post, Stephen G.
Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics. 1995 Spring; 4(2): 142-147.
...This article...is a prolegomenon that calls for a new cultural attitude toward people with dementia, one that counters the assumption that nothing can be done for them. Will, emotion, and relational capacity become the morally relevant features of the person whose rationality and memory have deeply faded. The ethics of dementia care does not accept the postulate of some ethicists that rationality and memory are the features of the person that give rise to moral standing and considerability. Placing too great a value on rationality and memory, arguably the cardinal values of modern technological societies, wrongly excludes people with dementia from the sphere of human dignity and respect for persons. Rationalistic theories of personhood discriminate against and unacceptably dehumanize those among us who most need our moral commitment. A respect for the whole person, and not reason or memory alone, has classically been based on the assumption that the human being is sacrosanct....
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