Moral and Ethical Capacities of the Psychopath

An Integrated View
  • Willem H. J. Martens
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 21)


Little is known about the moral and ethical abilities of the psychopath. Until now the biological components of ethical and moral development and performance are frequently left out of consideration. A large number of studies demonstrated that, in many cases, moral and ethical functions can be determined by psychosocial factors. Other investigations uncovered, however, that in some antisocial and psychopathic patients the moral and ethical abnormalities and related emotional dysfunctions are caused by neurological dysfunctions. Other examinations revealed environmental and genetic aspects of ethics and morality. In many cases, an interaction between biological, psychological, and social variables will be involved in the etiology of ethical and moral dysfunctions. The results of empirical, neurological, and philosophical investigations and relevant case studies suggested that antisocial and psychopathic personality disorders and related ethical, moral, and emotional abnormalities can be explained most comprehensively with the use of the biopsychosocial model. Biopsychosocial dysfunctions can also have adverse influences upon rationality, responsibility, empathy, and free-will — all ethical and moral significant abilities — of the psychopath.


Antisocial Behavior Personality Disorder Moral Reasoning Psychopathic Trait Moral Emotion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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