Psychopathy: Morally Incapacitated Persons

In Thomas Schramme & Steven Edwards (eds.), Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 1109-1129 (2017)
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Abstract

After describing the disorder of psychopathy, I examine the theories and the evidence concerning the psychopaths’ deficient moral capacities. I first examine whether or not psychopaths can pass tests of moral knowledge. Most of the evidence suggests that they can. If there is a lack of moral understanding, then it has to be due to an incapacity that affects not their declarative knowledge of moral norms, but their deeper understanding of them. I then examine two suggestions: it is their deficient practical reason or their stunted emotions that are at fault. The evidence supports both explanations. I conclude with an overview of the debate concerning whether they are morally or legally responsible for their actions.

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Heidi L. Maibom
University of Cincinnati

References found in this work

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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