Moral Responsibility and Mental Illness: a Call for Nuance
Does having a mental disorder, in general, affect whether someone is morally responsible for an action? Many people seem to think so, holding that mental disorders nearly always mitigate responsibility. Against this Naïve view, we argue for a Nuanced account. The problem is not just that different theories of responsibility yield different verdicts about particular cases. Even when all reasonable theories agree about what’s relevant to responsibility, the ways mental illness can affect behavior are so varied that a more nuanced approach is needed.
KeywordsFree will Accountability Blame Excuse Psychopathology Mental disorders
For helpful feedback on various drafts, we thank: Justin Caouette, Justin Clarke-Doane, Neil Levy, Kathryn Tabb, and Jesse Summers. A version of this paper was presented at a graduate seminar at Columbia University. Many thanks to Kathryn, Justin, and their thoughtful students for a profitable discussion that greatly shaped the final version of the paper.
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