Because human beings are persons, they should not be treated as things, discarded or “thrown away,” because they are no longer useful to others. That moral principle applies, especially, to men and women with Alzheimer’s disease. Of course, they are not the way they once were, fully cognizant of others, their surroundings and themselves. But even though they don’t function fully as human persons, they still possess the dignity or value of being persons. As such, they always matter in themselves, even if they may not matter to others. That is the philosophy of personalism. Its medical-moral principle is, simply put: Always treat patients, regardless or their bodily or mental condition, as persons, not things.
Published by Timothy K. Lent
I am an undergraduate Lecturer in the greater Philadelphia area on ethics, religious studies, medical ethics and theology and the life and writings of Viktor Frankl. I am also looking for full-time employment at a university or college, teaching in a religious studies or theology department. View all posts by Timothy K. Lent