Substituted decision making and the dispositional choice account

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Abstract

There are two main ways of understanding the function of surrogate decision making in a legal context: the Best Interests Standard and the Substituted Judgment Standard. First, we will argue that the Best Interests Standard is difficult to apply to unconscious patients. Application is difficult regardless of whether they have ever been conscious. Second, we will argue that if we accept the least problematic explanation of how unconscious patients can have interests, we are also obliged to accept that the Substituted Judgment Standard can be coherently applied to patients who have never been conscious at the same extent as the Best Interests Standard. We then argue that acknowledging this result is important in order to show patients respect.

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