New discoveries in neuroscience challenge our understanding of human responsibility and justice. Recent studies suggest that psychopaths not only exhibit specific behavioral patterns but may also have a distinct neuroanatomical blueprint. Scientists have shown that a significant number of individuals who have demonstrated psychopathic behaviors have reduced volume and other anatomical changes in various regions of the cerebral cortex as well as decreased functional connectivity between different brain areas (i.e., smaller dysfunctional amygdalae). These findings raise ethical questions about how our criminal system deals with these individuals. Should dysfunctional anatomical or diseased features exonerate affected individuals from any responsibility for their criminal activity or the suffering they have caused to their victims? It is estimated that individuals with the signs and symptoms of antisocial personality disorder make up 25% of inmates. Should individuals classified with this disorder be incarcerated with other criminals? In this paper, we summarize the results of the latest brain imaging studies performed on individuals with antisocial personality traits, referred to as psychopaths or sociopaths, and we explore some of the ethical issues concerning psychopathy and the law.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1615/EthicsBiologyEngMed.2014010429
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 70,214
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Evolutionary Explanation of Psychopaths.Seungbae Park - 2013 - International Journal of Social Science Studies 1 (2):1-7.
Re: Brains in a Vat.Stephen Hetherington - 2000 - Dialectica 54 (4):307–312.
Aristotle and the Punishment of Psychopaths.Vinit Haksar - 1964 - Philosophy 39 (150):323 - 340.
World Brains, Giant Brains and Brains in Vats.Charlie Gere - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences.
The Responsibility of the Psychopathic Offender.Christopher Ciocchetti - 2003 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 10 (2):175-183.
Conscience as the Rational Deficit of Psychopaths.Marijana Vujošević - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (8):1219-1240.


Added to PP index

Total views
21 ( #534,781 of 2,507,633 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #277,140 of 2,507,633 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes