Acknowledging Dependence: A MacIntyrean Perspective on Relationships Involving Alzheimer's Disease
Butts, Janie B.
Rich, Karen L.
Nursing Ethics 2004 July; 11(4): 400-410
As people living with Alzheimer's disease experience their lifetime of memories slowly slipping away, they become dependent on society's independent practical reasoners family, health care professionals and society. Many people grow accustomed to the cognitive decline and begin to view the person with dementia as less than a person. In Dependent rational animals, Alasdair MacIntyre emphasized a moral framework that encompasses two sets of virtues needed for human beings to flourish in society and to achieve genuine common goods--the virtues of independent practical reasoners and the virtues of acknowledged dependence. Virtues of acknowledged dependence are discussed ethically in terms of benevolence towards those who are disabled or dependent upon people who are strong and independent. The authors propose that using MacIntyre's perspective of the two sets of virtues is valuable in the care of persons with Alzheimer's disease. According to MacIntyre, independent reasoners who understand and practice these two sets of virtues will help those people in communities who are dependent and vulnerable, and, subsequently, human flourishing can occur.
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