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SEGEL Difficult Decisions - Mutual Solutions

Background and aims

Self-determination and independent living are of central importance for all people. This holds also for persons with cognitive disabilities, who have rights and obligations like everybody else: That has been an undeniable fact at the latest since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This changed perspective presents very special challenges to institutions and to specialists and support persons working with persons with disabilities. This makes itself felt in particular when the aim is for everyone to discuss together moral questions that can arise in the area of conflict between the right to self-determination and the duty of care. The research project “Participatory ethical decision making: People with and without disabilities together clarify questions concerning self-determination” takes on these challenges. The aim is to develop an instrument for working on ethical questions in the area of tension between self-determination and control by others. The instrument will make it possible for people with and without cognitive disabilities to discuss together concrete questions. In addition, fundamental content-related questions on the significance of self-determination for persons with cognitive disabilities will be clarified within the framework of the project. The research project has a development part and a research part and is participatory in design. That means that all work steps will be executed together with persons with cognitive disabilities. In the development part, the main focus is on developing an instrument.

The research part has the following objectives: for one, clarification of norms and values that are involved in ethical decision making in the area of disability, and for another, clarification of the significance of the concept of self-determination for and with persons with cognitive disabilities themselves. In addition, the instrument for decision making on ethical questions will be tested, and the project’s participatory approach will be reflected upon.


The design of the development and research project is just as participatory as the project group itself. The aim of the development is a participatory instrument for decision making for practical application with persons with cognitive disabilities. At the same time, the research methodological approach is participatory in design. Persons with cognitive disabilities are not just research subjects but instead part of the project group and thus (prospective) teachers and researchers.

BREF - Brückenschläge mit Erfolg

This research project is one of six winners of the BREF "Brückenschläge mit Erfolg" - Call 2017, a cooperation funding programme of the Gebert Rüf Stiftung and swissuniversities.



Project Management

  • Zentrum für Ethik und Nachhaltigkeit Fachhochschule St. Gallen

Project team

Financial support


Forschung und Entwicklung
Tel: +41 44 317 11 81

zfe[at] zfe