Some conferences produce proceedings, others an inspiration to labor, which finally leads to a published work. Such has been the case with regard to this volume. In 1984, the Center for Ethics, Medicine, and Public Issues held a conference with the title 'When are Competent Patients Incompetent?' with the support of the Texas Committee for the Humanities, a state-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Assistance was provided by both Baylor College of Medicine and the Institute of Religion. This conference evoked a con siderable interest in examining further the moral status of competency determinations in the clinical setting. This interest is realized in this volume, which now affords us an opportunity to thank all those individ uals who made the conference possible, only some of whom are acknowledged in this Preface. In particular, we wish to express our gratitude to Baruch A. Brody, Rebecca Dresser, the Honorable Jerome Jones, H. Steven Moffic, Margery W. Shaw, Eleanor Tinsley, and Albert Van HeIden. The volume took its shape through the labors of Earl Shelp and Mary Ann Gardell Cutter, who inspired the further evolution of the papers presented at the conference and attracted contributions from individuals who had not attended. Earl Shelp and Mary Ann Gardell Cutter have produced a volume following extensive reflection and dialogue; they were ably assisted in the final preparation of the manu script by Thomas J. Bole III and George Khushf, to whom special thanks are due.