Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Rivka Weinberg

Reader 2

Yuval Avnur


At some point in their lives, many people will become the medical proxy for a loved one with dementia and may be faced with difficult choices regarding the patient's treatments. These choices become particularly difficult when one is faced with the issue of whether to enroll the patient in medical research. This thesis argues that the will of the individual with dementia ought to their own guide care when possible, so assent from the patient is necessary to enroll them in a trial. I believe it is an unacceptable breach of paternalistic authority to enroll someone or keep someone enrolled if they reject their participation in a study. Since the choice to enroll in a clinical study is highly personal and is a case where one must weigh the risks and benefits in accordance with one’s values, it is an extremely difficult choice to make on the behalf of another person. Regardless of whether a dementia patient has the cognitive capacity to consent to treatment, I contend that, although some of their autonomy may be compromised, dementia patients still possess moral personhood and a degree of autonomy, so their wills ought to be respected. However, in certain cases where the choices of a dementia patient will be harmful to the patient, paternalistic decision-making that conflicts with the patient’s will is justified. A person with dementia’s desires should be respected both because following their will preserves dignity and because there is, in most cases, not enough evidence to suggest that the benefits would clearly outweigh the risks to justify a breach of this dignity

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.