AJOB Neuroscience.

Including Emotionality in Tests of Competence: How Does Neurodiversity Affect Measures of Free Will and Agency in Medical Decision Making?

Medical decision making by patients is respected as a lawful exercise of free will and agency unless patients are found to lack “competence.” Yet measures of competence in medical decision making typically assess only cognitive abilities. Emotionality is involved in decision making and may affect how far patients’ decisions to accept or refuse medical treatment embody free will. Moreover, neurodivergence, or atypical neurological makeup, is often diagnosed as neurodegeneration, neurodysfunction, neural damage, or neural difference and frequently leads to difficulties in considering the emotional aspects of decisions that standard tests do not measure or disclose. Neurodiversity activists assert that their neural differences are not pathologies to be treated or cured but are alternative ways of being that should be accepted as neuroequal. Nevertheless, who may claim to be neurodiverse is uncertain. We focus on atypical emotionality to consider the limits of neurodiversity in relation to measures of competence, particularly in relation to end-of-life decision making.

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Volume 2, Issue 3
July 2011


Free Will Matters Patricia Churchland