Date of Award

Spring 2020

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. Tom Cook

Committee Member

Dr. Eric Smaw

Committee Member

Dr. Matthew Forsythe


By the year 2050, over 131.5 million people worldwide will have dementia. While many dementia patients seek euthanasia as a means of maintaining dignity and autonomy, they are in a difficult position: because physician-assisted euthanasia is administered by a medical professional, in current medical practice, the dementia patient must be euthanized while she is of sound mind. She thus sacrifices years of fulfilled, compos mentis living. With an advance euthanasia directive, the patient can designate a brightline of dementia past which she would like to be euthanized. She would be able to live out her compos mentis years, and have control over her living remains, the body containing the demented version of herself. This thesis argues that the advance euthanasia directive is morally permissible, and that it is morally obligatory to fulfill the advance euthanasia directive in the clinical setting. We argue in favor of the advance directive on the basis of the loss of personhood after full-onset dementia (narrative death), the posthumous claims of the advance directive’s author to her own body (right to historical bodily autonomy), and the posthumous harm that would be inflicted on the advance directive’s author if a medical professional were to disregard her contract. Based in rule utilitarianism, this thesis draws on the works of authors such as Helga Kuhse, Govind Persad, and Beauchamp and Childress. We conclude that while we have reservations about legal and financial issues of access to the advance directive, it remains medical professionals’ moral obligation to respect it.

Rights Holder

Isabella Braga