Psychology Colloquium: Consent, assent, and competence determination in dementia care
Dr Hojjat Soofi, University of Sydney
Dr Hojjat (Hoji) Soofi is a Lecturer in Bioethics at Sydney Health Ethics (School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health). He is a pharmacist by training and an early career bioethics researcher. He received his PhD and MRes in bioethics from Macquarie University in October 2021 and April 2018, respectively. He is also an alumnus of Erasmus Mundus Master of Bioethics (KU Leuven, Radboud University Nijmegen, and the University of Padua). Before joining Sydney Health Ethics in January 2023, he was an MQCR Postdoctoral Fellow at Macquarie University Research Centre for Agency, Values, and Ethics (CAVE).
I present a strand of my current research program on ethics in dementia care. It involves investigating issues around competence determination. I aim to develop a hybrid externalist/internalist account of competence determination. The account would be externalist in the sense that welfarist considerations can be relevant to judgments of competence inasmuch as they trigger pursuing further evidence of the values of people with dementia. That is, the riskier a decision appears to be, the more stringent the standards of appraising evidence are to be applied. The prosed account would also have internalist elements: the aim is to investigate the individuals’ internal aspects of decision-making and identify what they value (most). I then connect these to another direction of my research on assent: I present an argument to the effect that decisional incompetence should not be conflated with (and does not entail) the inability to ‘assent’ to care.