, 1:158

Moral Responsibility and the Psychopath

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s12152-008-9012-x

Cite this article as:
Glannon, W. Neuroethics (2008) 1: 158. doi:10.1007/s12152-008-9012-x


Psychopathy involves impaired capacity for prudential and moral reasoning due to impaired capacity for empathy, remorse, and sensitivity to fear-inducing stimuli. Brain abnormalities and genetic polymorphisms associated with these traits appear to justify the claim that psychopaths cannot be morally responsible for their behavior. Yet psychopaths are capable of instrumental reasoning in achieving their goals, which suggests that they have some capacity to respond to moral reasons against performing harmful acts and refrain from performing them. The cognitive and affective impairment of the psychopath justifies mitigated responsibility, but not excuse.


Affective impairment Cognitive impairment Control Excuse Mitigation Moral responsibility Psychopathy Reasons–responsiveness 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departments of Philosophy and Community Health SciencesUniversity of CalgaryCalgaryCanada

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