What’s in a name? Why people with dementia might be better off without the language of personhood

John Swinton* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


The paper explores the issue of personhood within the context of the lives of people with advanced dementia. It frames the issue of personhood theologically as an aspect of naming, emphasising the power of naming for the ways in which we respond to things in the world. If we choose to name dementia in terms of personhood and non-personhood with the value of an individual gauged by their ability to do or not to do certain things then there are dangers. Non-persons lose their value and some suggest lose their right to life. Drawing on the philosophy of Robert Spaemann and the theology of Rowan Williams, this paper offers a counter-response which positions the value of all people as lying in the prevenient love of God.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234-247
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Practical Theology
Issue number2
Early online date28 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 19 Dec 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies

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