Biology & Philosophy

, 34:5 | Cite as

Is psychopathy a harmful dysfunction?

  • Marko JurjakoEmail author


In their paper “Is psychopathy a mental disease?”, Thomas Nadelhoffer and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argue that according to any plausible account of mental disorder, neural and psychological abnormalities correlated with psychopathy should be regarded as signs of a mental disorder. I oppose this conclusion by arguing that at least on a naturalistically grounded account, such as Wakefield’s ‘Harmful Dysfunction’ view, currently available empirical data and evolutionary considerations indicate that psychopathy is not a mental disorder.


Psychopathy Mental disorder Harmful dysfunctions Frequency-dependent selection Life-history theory 



I wish to thank Justin Garson, Luca Malatesti, Zdenka Brzović, and Janko Međedović for reading and giving valuable comments on previous versions of this paper. I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers of Biology and Philosophy for giving extensive and very useful comments. Thanks also to the University of Rijeka for supporting early career researchers (small Grant This paper is an output of project Harm, Intentions, and Responsibility (HIRe) that is financed by the Croatian Science Foundation (Grant HRZZ-UIP-2017-05-4308).


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in RijekaUniversity of RijekaRijekaCroatia

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