Multiple personality and moral responsibility

The philosophical literature on multiple personality has focused primarily on problems about personal identity and psychological explanation. But multiple personality and other dissociative phenomena raise equally important and even more urgent questions about moral responsibility, in particular: In what respect(s) and to what extent should a multiple be held responsible for the actions of his/her alternate personalities? Cases of dreaming help illustrate why attributions of responsibility in cases of dissociation do not turn on putative changes in identity, as some have supposed. Instead, it is argued that traditional criteria of rationality and behavioral control apply also to cases of dissociation. It is noted, however, that one can distinguish different kinds of responsibility in cases of dissociation, and that one is responsible for one's dreams in a different sense from that in which one is responsible for actions one can control and evaluate. It is also argued that in cases of multiple personality it is important to distinguish control over switching of personalities from an alter's control over its own behavior. Moreover, the author considers reasons for thinking that amnesia is less relevant to attributions of responsibility than many have supposed.
Keywords Disorder  Personality  Psychiatry  Responsibility  Science
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DOI 10.1353/ppp.1996.0003
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