Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Assent and vulnerability in patients who lack capacity
  1. Christopher A Riddle
  1. Department of Philosophy, Utica, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christopher A Riddle, Philosophy, Utica, NY 13502, USA; cariddlephd{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Smajdor’s Reification and Assent in Research Involving Those Who lack Capacity claims, among other things, that ‘adults who cannot give informed consent may nevertheless have the ability to assent and dissent, and that these capacities are morally important in the context of research’.1 More pointedly, she suggests we can rely upon Gillick competence, or that ‘it is worth thinking about why the same trajectory [as children] has not been evident in the context of [adults with impairments of capacity to give informed consent (AWIC)]’.1 I argue that her likening assent in AWIC to assent in children is problematic for at least two related reasons. First, direct comparisons between AWIC and children run the risk of perpetuating or reinforcing infantilising stereotypes against people with disabilities. Second, I argue that people with disabilities are vulnerable in ways that most children are not, and thus, are dissimilar in a morally relevant manner.

The infantilising of people with disabilities is quite widely documented and thought to be deeply problematic.2 Not only are people with disabilities often thought to be infantile in regard to particular …

View Full Text


  • Twitter @cariddlephd

  • Contributors CAR is the sole author and contributor.

  • 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.

Linked Articles