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Decision-Making Capacity

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[Revised entry by Louis C. Charland and Jennifer Hawkins on August 14, 2020. Changes to: Main text, Bibliography, notes.html] In many Western jurisdictions the law presumes that adult persons, and sometimes children that meet certain criteria, are capable of making their own medical decisions; for example, consenting to a particular medical treatment, or consenting to participate in a research trial. But what exactly does it mean to say that a subject has or lacks the requisite capacity to decide? This question has to do with what is commonly called "decisional capacity", a central concept in health care law and ethics, and increasingly an independent topic...

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News source: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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