Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Dustin Locke

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This paper analyzes the source of what we consider to be the self and how such conclusions should inform whether Advance Euthanasia Directives (AEDs) are valid means of exacting end-of-life decisions for patients with dementia. The paper begins with a survey aimed at investigating various popular theories of self and ultimately arrives at John Locke’s memory-based theory of personal identity as the most promising of such arguments. I then address two important critiques of the theory, the branching problem, and the various issues that arise in cases concerning significant memory loss. Ultimately, I analyze the use of Alternative Euthanasia Directives concerning patients suffering from dementia. AEDs have been emerging as a means of ensuring that individuals may die on their own terms considering neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia often result in a loss of mental faculties. AEDs are essentially contracts which state that a given dementia patient should not receive life-saving treatment in the event of illness. However, as we will see, AEDs run the risk of discounting the testimony of patients that are in the throes of dementia who may want such life-saving treatment. Within the argument revolving around AEDs, I analyze topics such as autonomy, personhood, and decision-making, all of which are informed by Locke’s theory. In addition to Locke, I draw from contemporary scholars who have written extensively on this subject. Ultimately, I determine that AEDs have too much potential to harm dementia patients and that in many cases they are not effective in maximizing the well-being of dementia patients. I believe that this conclusion is a step forward in developing an understanding of the self and its ties to dementia. Millions of people are diagnosed with dementia every year which makes answers to these questions more pertinent than ever.