Disordered, Disabled, Disregarded, Dismissed: The Moral Costs of Exemptions from Accountability

In Matt King & Joshua May (eds.), Agency in Mental Disorder: Philosophical Dimensions. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
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According to a popular line of thought, being excluded from interpersonal life is to be exempted from accountability, and vice versa. In ordinary life, this is most often illustrated by the treatment of people with serious psychological disorders. When people are excluded from valuable domains on the basis of their arbitrary characteristics (such as race and sex), they are discriminated against, prevented from receiving the benefits of participation in those domains for morally irrelevant reasons. Exemption from accountability—via exclusion from the interpersonal domain—seems to prevent exempted parties from receiving crucial human goods for morally irrelevant reasons. This chapter discusses two widely deployed ways of trying to ameliorate morally costly disabilities. Both fail to apply viably to various psychopathologies. The solution involves disentangling accountability and interpersonality in a way that also provides insights into our shared human nature.



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David Shoemaker
Cornell University

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