Treating Psychopaths Fairly

American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (3):158-160 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Dietmar Hübner and Lucie White question the ethical justification of employing risky neurosurgical interventions to treat imprisoned psychopaths. They argue that (1) such interventions would confer no medical benefit on the psychopath as there is no “subjective suffering” involved in psychopathy and (2) psychopaths could not voluntarily consent to such procedures because they could have no “internal motivation” for doing so. In the course of their discussion, the authors insightfully show that certain aspects of the psychopath’s personality structure are especially relevant to assessing the ethics of risky treatment options. As I argue, however, the particular conclusions that the authors draw are too strong. A deeper look at the psychopathic profile casts doubt on (1) and (2). In some cases, psychopaths can be plausibly construed as experiencing subjective suffering on account of their disorder and as appropriately motivated to voluntarily consent to neurosurgical treatment. After arguing for this view, I suggest that the psychopath’s consent to neurosurgical intervention might nonetheless be problematic, as their emotional incapacities might preclude their abilities to adequately appreciate the relevant risks.

Similar books and articles

Neurosurgery for Psychopaths? An Ethical Analysis.Dietmar Hübner & Lucie White - 2016 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (3):140-149.
Neurosurgery for psychopaths? The problems of empathy and neurodiversity.Erick Ramirez - 2016 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (3):166-168.
Diagnosing blame: Responsibility and the psychopath.Carl Elliott - 1992 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (2):199-214.
XIV—Psychopathic Agency and Prudential Deficits.Gary Watson - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (3pt3):269-292.
The mad, the bad, and the psychopath.Heidi L. Maibom - 2008 - Neuroethics 1 (3):167-184.

Analytics

Added to PP
2017-07-02

Downloads
573 (#29,338)

6 months
92 (#42,301)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Monique Wonderly
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The elements of moral philosophy.James Rachels & Stuart Rachels - 2015 - [Dubuque]: McGraw-Hill Education. Edited by James Rachels.
Moral enhancement and freedom.John Harris - 2010 - Bioethics 25 (2):102-111.
Neurosurgery for Psychopaths? An Ethical Analysis.Dietmar Hübner & Lucie White - 2016 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 7 (3):140-149.

View all 11 references / Add more references