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The article Decision-Making Capacity (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) says that any successful theory of decisional capacity must turn out that most ordinary adults count as having capacity most of the time (inclusivity). This is understandable for practical reason (say, people won't vote for policy based on otherwise theories). But why would that be a necessary requirement for a theory? For me it feels like: because most people believe that the sun orbits the Earth, therefore any astronomical theories shouldn't contradict to that. Is that correct? And in general, would inclusivity and tolerance be constraint for any theory of ethics?

Below is the full explanation the article provides:

The inclusiveness constraint derives entirely from the needs of practice. No matter what theory of decisional capacity we develop, it must turn out that most ordinary adults count as having capacity most of the time (Buchanan & Brock 1989: 21; Appelbaum 1998). In other words, as a society we are morally committed to imposing minimal restraints on individual choice. Most people are free to make most choices in their lives for themselves, even including self-harming choices. It would therefore be intolerable if our account of decisional capacity in medicine were to differ significantly from that norm, especially given that the doctrine of informed consent arose in the context of a movement aiming to give greater decisional power to patients and research subjects. Thus, it is generally recognized that failure of a theory to be inclusive enough would be sufficient by itself for rejecting an account of decisional capacity.

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    Because we want a descriptive theory that reflects our ethical commitments, and what we recognize as a decision capacity in the light of them, they are its factual basis in this case. Just as we want a linguistic theory that reflects how most people, in fact, use words and sentences. Astronomical theories may well contradict what most people believe, they have an independent factual basis in space. But theories about what people believe may not. – Conifold 2 days ago
  • @Conifold that makes sense. So would any theory to explain a social concept need to have that constrain? – Ooker yesterday
  • Most people can be mistaken about social concepts as well, society functions autonomously of what people believe. But a theory describing social competencies, such as they are, would have to be inclusive. – Conifold yesterday
  • but then how would we end slavery, if social theories need to be inclusive? – Ooker 8 hours ago
  • Not all theories need to be descriptive, some are normative, those are about what ought to be, not what is. – Conifold 7 hours ago

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