Abstract: In this article the author discusses the basic values and concepts in the debate concerning use of coercion against individuals with cognitive impairment caused by various forms of dementia or mentally retardation. The traditional concept of individual autonomy, which is an important aspect of human dignity, has in a problematic way excluded persons with intellectual disabilities. Therefore, the author presents arguments in favour of the denomination of the competing values as right of self-determination and paternalism. He suggests that the concept of human dignity, which is the core value to be protected through human rights, should be seen as a balancing norm for the harmonization of the involved competing interests. Thus, in some cases use of coercion is necessary to secure human dignity of individuals with cognitive impairments that lead to decisional incapacity.

Keywords: Autonomy, human dignity, paternalism, integrity, mental retardation, dementia