Ought we to require emotional capacity as part of decisional competence?

Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 1998 Dec;8(4):377-87. doi: 10.1353/ken.1998.0024.


The preceding commentary by Louis Charland suggests that traditional cognitive views of decision-making competence err in not taking into account patients' emotional capacities. Examined closely, however, Charland's argument fails to escape the cognitive bias that he condemns. However, there may be stronger arguments for broadening the focus of competence assessment to include emotional capacities, centering on the ways in which emotions aid humans in processing information. Before emotional capacities are added to the list of functions essential for decisional competence, though, the feasibility and utility of such a reorientation must be demonstrated.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Diseases
  • Brain Injuries
  • Cognition
  • Comprehension
  • Decision Making
  • Emotions*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent*
  • Mental Competency*
  • Mentally Ill Persons
  • Patients
  • Reference Standards*