Respect Towards Elderly Demented Patients

Oliver Sensen

About author

Oliver Sensen, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Department of Philosophy
Director of Graduate Studies

School of Liberal Arts
105J Newcomb Hall
Tulane University
USA

Email:
 sensen@tulane.edu

Oliver Sensen is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Philosophy at Tulane University. He is the author of Kant on Human Dignity (de Gruyter 2011), editor of Kant on Moral Autonomy (Cambridge University Press 2012), co-editor of Kant’s Tugendlehre (de Gruyter, 2013), as well as the author of several articles on Kant’s ethical concepts.

Abstract


One question of applied ethics is the status and proper treatment of marginal cases, i.e., of people who are not yet or not anymore in full possession of their rational capacities, such as elderly demented people. Does one belittle them if one does not treat them like normal human adults, or would it be disrespectful and demanding too much if one did? Are elderly demented even the proper object of respect? In this paper I explore what Kant would say about these questions if he had addressed them. I look at what Kantian respect is, how he justifies the requirement to respect others, and what it demands more specifically. My claim is that Kant conceives of respect as a maxim of not exalting oneself above others. One should adopt this attitude independently of what the other is like. Differences between normal human adults and marginal cases are important for how one should treat them, but ultimately not for the question of why one should treat them with respect. Accordingly, elderly demented people should be respected, and it depends on the individual case what kind of actions this implies.

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References


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DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.39.2014.567

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/567
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/567/en

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