“Psychopathy, Moral Reasons, and Responsibility”

In Alexandra Perry C. D. Herrera (ed.), Ethics and Neurodiversity (2013)
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In popular culture psychopaths are inaccurately portrayed as serial killers or homicidal maniacs. Most real-world psychopaths are neither killers nor maniacs. Psychologists currently understand psychopathy as an affective disorder that leads to repeated criminal and antisocial behavior. Counter to this prevailing view, I claim that psychopathy is not necessarily linked with criminal behavior. Successful psychopaths, an intriguing new category of psychopathic agent, support this conception of psychopathy. I then consider reactive attitude theories of moral responsibility. Within this tradition, psychopaths are thought to be blameless as a result of their pronounced affective deficits. Psychopaths are considered morally blind because they lack the moral emotions that make us sensitive to moral reasons. I argue that, even if they are morally blind, psychopaths remain open to forms of blame stemming from non-moral reactive attitudes. These reactive attitudes remain appropriate because psychopaths can express hateful, disgusting, or contemptible non-moral values in their judgments.



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Erick José Ramirez
Santa Clara University

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References found in this work

A treatise of human nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1969 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by Ernest Campbell Mossner.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Freedom of the will and the concept of a person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments.R. Jay Wallace - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.

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