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Clarifying capacity: Value and reasons 

Clarifying capacity: Value and reasons
Clarifying capacity: Value and reasons

Jules Holroyd

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date: 25 June 2022

The aim of this paper is to clarify what is involved in the notion of capacity as used in the Mental Capacity Act of 2005. This act (hereafter MCA) sets out the conditions for ascertaining whether an individual lacks the mental capacity to make a decision. Where there is evidence for an individual lacking capacity, and further inquiry confirms this to be the case, then another individual is assigned to decide in the individual’s best interests. Because judgements about whether someone has or lacks capacity can have significant consequences, in particular in the context of healthcare, it is crucial to come to a full and accurate understanding of what it is to have—or lack—capacity. Considered in the context of mental healthcare, we will see that ascertaining whether an individual has capacity is not only an ethical matter concerning the avoidance of harms, but also has political implications concerning what choices or conceptions of value the state should, via the health service, permit....

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