Published online by Cambridge University Press: 20 June 2016
In this article, we present a short case study based on an incident that occurred in Israel several years ago. The incident did not reach the courts but was made public by the family members of the older woman at the center of it. The family argued that the actions taken by one of the parties involved should have been defined as elder abuse, but no criminal charges were ever brought. Yet the issues concern key legal and ethical questions about law, religion, and older persons. More specifically, the incident raises the issue of the moral commitment to one's past religious beliefs in reference to one's current choices and preferences once living with dementia. We contend in this article that an Aristotelean account of human dignity would have provided the most satisfactory way to resolve the tensions created by this incident.
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7 While the case we present is based on an actual incident, various facts were changed in order to maintain the parties' anonymity and to better reflect the ethical dilemma of the case.
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30 Our use of the term “Jewish law” in this article should not be confused with either “Israeli law” or “Jewish ethics.” “Israeli law” refers to the laws of the State of Israel. Sometimes those laws reflect Jewish traditions or halachic rules, but they are the outcome of a secular and democratic process. “Jewish ethics” does not refer strictly to the halacha or the Orthodox rulings but rather to the broader philosophical and ethical grounds of a Jewish religion and tradition.
31 Abraham S. Abraham, The Older Patient—A Halakhic Perspective on Nursing Issues [in Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Reuven Mass Publications, 1989).
32 See Charles C. Foster and Jonathan Herring, Altruism, Welfare and the Law (New York: Springer, 2015).
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38 See Charles C. Foster, Human Dignity in Bioethics and Law (Oxford: Hart, 2012).
40 Beauchamp and Childress's four principles—respect to autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice—form one of the most widely used ethical frameworks in bioethics. See Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, 5th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).
41 See Charles Foster, “Dignity and the Use of Body Parts,” Journal of Medical Ethics (2012): 44–47.
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