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Essay example - Precedent vs. Contemporaneous Autonomy in Regard to Advance Directives

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Pages 6 (1506 words)
An advance directive is a set of written instructions a person gives. It specifies the kind of actions to be taken for his or her health if he/she is no longer able to make decisions due to illness or incapacity…

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Ronald Dworkin argues that if we can declare this patient incompetent, he does not have the capacity that autonomy represents. This means that respect should be upheld to the patients’ prior wishes made when competent. This is because a competent person’s decisions are autonomous ones. This view is referred to as the integrity view, which states that the value of autonomy derives from the capacity it protects: the capacity to express one’s own character traits, values, commitments, convictions and critical as well as experiential interest in a life one leads. However, it is arguable that, in most cases the present desires expressed by a patient need to be respected. Dworkin constructs a hypothetical case, where there exists a woman named Margo, who has dementia, but still seems to find pleasure in seemingly meaningless activities, such as reading, eating snacks among others. He even explains that Margo may be one of the happiest people he “knows.” However, years back, Margo had signed an advance directive expressing her desire to be left to die if she were to need life-saving medical treatment once afflicted with dementia. ...
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