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Risk-relativity is still a nonsense
  1. Neil John Pickering1,
  2. Giles Newton-Howes2,
  3. Simon Walker1
  1. 1 Bioethics Centre, Dunedin School of Medicine, Dunedin, New Zealand
  2. 2 Psychological Medicine, University of Otago Medical School, Wellington, New Zealand
  1. Correspondence to Dr Neil John Pickering, Bioethics Centre, University of Otago Medical School, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand; neil.pickering{at}


In this short response to Gray’s article Capacity and Decision Making we double down on our argument that risk-relativity is a nonsense. Risk relativity is the claim that we should set a higher standard of competence for a person to make a risky choice than to make a safe choice. Gray’s response largely involves calling attention to the complexities, ramifications and multiple value implications of decision-making, but we do not deny any of this. Using the notion of quality of care mentioned by Gray, we construct an argument that might be used to support risk relativity. But it is no more persuasive than the arguments put forward by risk-relativists.

  • Mental Competency
  • Decision Making

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  • Contributors NJP drafted response, GN-H and SW commented extensively and suggested revisions.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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