Psychopaths have emotional impairments that can be expressed in persistent criminal behaviour. UK and US law has traditionally excused disordered individuals for their crimes citing these emotional impairments as a cause for their criminal behaviour. The discussion of whether psychopaths are morally responsible for their behaviour has long taken place in the realm of philosophy. However, in recent years, this has moved into scientific and psychiatric investigation, fundamentally so with the development of Robert Hare's diagnostic tool, the Psychopathy Checklist.
Responsibility and Psychopathy explores the moral responsibility of psychopaths. It engages with problems at the interface of law, psychiatry, and philosophy, and is divided into three parts providing relevant interdisciplinary background information to address this main problem.
The first part discusses the public policy and legal responses to psychopathy. It offers an introduction to the central practical issue of how public policy should respond to psychopathy, giving insights for those arguing about the responsibility of psychopaths.
The second part introduces recent scientific advancements in the classification, description, and explanation of psychopathy. In particular, Robert Hare illustrates and defends his Psychopathy Checklist (PCL). Surveys of the most recent brain imaging studies on psychopaths and the prospects for treatment are also included.
The third part of the volume includes chapters covering the most significant dimensions of philosophical debate on the moral and criminal responsibility of psychopaths. In relation to this issue, philosophers have considered whether psychopathic offenders possess moral understanding and/or are capable of controlling their criminal behaviour. This part illustrates how answering these questions involves investigating highly debated and central philosophical problems. These difficulties concern the nature of moral understanding, the significance of emotive and cognitive faculties in moral understanding and motivation, and the most appropriate account of moral and criminal responsibility that can justify a response to the psychopathic offenders.
Exploring one of the most contentious topics of our time, this book is fascinating reading for psychiatrists, philosophers, criminologists, and lawyers.
Luca Malatesti received his doctorate in philosophy of science from the University of Genoa and his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Stirling. He was Wellcome Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Institute of Applied Ethics at the University of Hull. He is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Rijeka (Croatia). His areas of research are philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychiatry. John McMillan is Associate Professor at the School of Medicine, Flinders University. Prior to this appointment he worked at the Hull York Medical School (2004-9), Cambridge (2002-4), Oxford (1998-2002) and Otago (1995-8) where he taught ethics to philosophy and medical students. He is an editor of The Principles of Healthcare Ethics (with Ashcroft, Dawson and Draper) 2007, Empirical Ethics in Psychiatry (with Widdershoven, Hope and Van der Scheer) 2008 and The Limits of Consent (with Corrigan, Liddell, Richards and Weijer) 2009. He was a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics working party on ethical issues and dementia which reported on October 1st, 2009. He is about to begin work on a book The Methods of Bioethics (with Adrian Walsh).
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