The Phenomenology and Ethics of P-Centricity in Mental Capacity Law

Law and Philosophy 42 (2):145-175 (2023)
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Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) in England and Wales, the liberal commitments to subjective freedom guide obligations towards persons who do not lack capacity. For the subject of proceedings who might lack capacity (P), it is less clear as to what obligations orient best interests decision-making on their behalf. The UK Supreme Court has emphasised the centrality of ‘P-centricity’ in best interests decision-making, where there is the legal obligation to consider P’s subjective views and wishes in a holistic consideration of best interests. Unclarity nonetheless persists as to what is owed to P in the best interests standard, leading to the tendency to interpret obligations of P-centricity through the normative prism of subjective autonomy. This paper argues that such moves reduce the complex moral phenomenology of what a P-centric ethos entails. Instead, the phenomenological and ethical stance of moral considerability and recognition respect can best capture the enriched normative grounding for P-centric decision-making in mental capacity law.



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Two kinds of respect.Stephen L. Darwall - 1977 - Ethics 88 (1):36-49.
Phenomenology as a Form of Empathy.Matthew Ratcliffe - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (5):473-495.
Dignity and the Phenomenology of Recognition-Respect.Uriah Kriegel - 2017 - In John J. Drummond & Sonja Rinofner-Kreidl (eds.), Emotional Experiences: Ethical and Social Significance. New York: Rowman & Littlefield International. pp. 121-136.

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