Dr. D.J. Kamphof
Make-believe Matters. The Moral Role Things Play in Dementia Care.
The main question guiding this project is: Under which conditions can practices with artefacts that involve make-believe be seen as supportive of personhood and when do they count as deceptive and as undermining personhood?
Existing ethical approaches that focus on humans as autonomous moral actors are ill-equipped to deal with the subtle mediating role of artefacts in current dementia care. This project takes an alternative, practice-oriented approach to ethics. It maps out emerging moral intuitions and conflicts through fieldwork in selected care practices, supplemented by interviews and literature research. The results of fieldwork are analysed and evaluated with the help of three main fields of inquiry that are brought together in an innovative way: the philosophy of technological mediation, ethical theory on deception in dementia care, and concepts of person-centred care. Four groups of objects are studied in this project: objects that provide companionship (e.g. robots, companion dolls), protection (e.g. electronic doors, fake bus stops), enrichment (e.g. virtual reality environments), and recognition (e.g. personalized doors, nostalgic interiors).