Cognitive Science Lunchtime Talk
Adolescent Autonomy in the Medical Domain
Abstract: Suppose a 16-year-old girl refuses chemotherapy for a highly treatable form of cancer. Should her wishes be respected? Does it matter whether her parents agree with her decision? There is an ongoing debate about whether adolescents should have the authority to accept or refuse medical treatment. Currently, adolescents have very little power over their health care. A number of scholars have argued that empirical work on adolescent brain development can shed light on this contentious issue. In this talk I present some of the empirical literature. I then consider how these findings should bear on our thinking about adolescent autonomy in the medical domain.