Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Law Commons

Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

Pace University

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

Health Law and Policy

Bioethics

Publication Year

Articles 1 - 2 of 2

Full-Text Articles in Law

Narrative Capacity, James Toomey May 2022

Narrative Capacity, James Toomey

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

The doctrine of capacity is a fundamental threshold to the protections of private law. The law only recognizes private decision-making—from exercising the right to transfer or bequeath property and entering into a contract to getting married or divorced—made with the level of cognitive functioning that the capacity doctrine demands. When the doctrine goes wrong, it denies individuals, particularly older adults, access to basic private-law rights on the one hand and ratifies decision-making that may tear apart families and tarnish legacies on the other.

The capacity doctrine in private law is built on a fundamental philosophical mismatch. It is grounded in …


"As Long As I'M Me": From Personhood To Personal Identity In Dementia And Decision-Making, James Toomey Jan 2021

"As Long As I'M Me": From Personhood To Personal Identity In Dementia And Decision-Making, James Toomey

Elisabeth Haub School of Law Faculty Publications

As people, especially older people, begin to develop dementia, we confront ethical questions about when and how to intervene in their increasingly compromised decision-making. The prevailing approach in philosophically-inclined bioethics to tackling this challenge has been to develop theories of “decision-making capacity” based on the same characteristics that entitle the decisions of moral persons to respect in general. This Article argues that this way of thinking about the problem has missed the point. Because the disposition of property is an identity-dependent right, what matters in dementia and decision-making is an individual’s personal identity with their prior self, not their moral …