Responsibility, dysfunction and capacity

Neuroethics 1 (3):199-204 (2008)

Authors
Nicole A. Vincent
Delft University of Technology
Abstract
The way in which we characterize the structural and functional differences between psychopath and normal brains – either as biological disorders or as mere biological differences – can influence our judgments about psychopaths’ responsibility for criminal misconduct. However, Marga Reimer (Neuroethics 1(2):14, 2008) points out that whether our characterization of these differences should be allowed to affect our judgments in this manner “is a difficult and important question that really needs to be addressed before policies regarding responsibility... can be implemented with any confidence”. This paper is an attempt to address Reimer’s difficult and important question; I argue that irrespective of which of these two characterizations is chosen, our judgments about psychopaths’ responsibility should not be affected, because responsibility hinges not on whether a particular difference is (referred to as) a disorder or not, but on how that difference affects the mental capacities required for moral agency.
Keywords Moral responsibility  Disorder  Disease  Dysfunction  Mental capacity  Capacity responsibility  Moral agency  Psychopathy  Legal responsibility  Criminal law
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DOI 10.1007/s12152-008-9022-8
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References found in this work BETA

How Does Moral Judgment Work?Joshua Greene & Jonathan Haidt - 2002 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6 (12):517-523.
The Mad, the Bad, and the Psychopath.Heidi L. Maibom - 2008 - Neuroethics 1 (3):167-184.
Moral Responsibility and the Psychopath.Walter Glannon - 2008 - Neuroethics 1 (3):158-166.
Reasons Reactivity and Incompatibilist Intuitions.Michael McKenna - 2005 - Philosophical Explorations 8 (2):131-143.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Are Psychopaths Legally Insane?Anneli Jefferson & Katrina Sifferd - 2018 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 14 (1):79-96.
Responsibility: Distinguishing Virtue From Capacity.Nicole A. Vincent - 2009 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):111-26.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Some Thoughts on Diverse Psychopathic Offenders and Legal Responsibility.Christopher Ciocchetti - 2003 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 10 (2):195-198.
Diagnosing Blame: Responsibility and the Psychopath.Carl Elliott - 1992 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (2):199-214.
The Responsibility of the Psychopath Revisited.Neil Levy - 2007 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (2):pp. 129-138.
Moral Responsibility and the Psychopath.Walter Glannon - 2008 - Neuroethics 1 (3):158-166.

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