AJOB Neuroscience.

What We Owe the Psychopath: A Neuroethical Analysis

Psychopaths are often regarded as a scourge of contemporary society and, as such, are the focus of much public vilification and outrage. But, arguably, psychopaths are both sinned against as well as sinners. If that is true, then their status as the victims of abusive subcultures partially mitigates their moral responsibility for the harms they cause. We argue, from the neuroethics of psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), that communities have a moral obligation to psychopaths as well as a case against them. A reflection on the genesis and developmental epidemiology of psychopathy reveals an individualist, attribution-type error evident in much Western psychological and legal thinking—an error that obscures important moral truths about psychopaths. The resulting analysis makes us reconsider the distinction between disorders and moral failings and the ethical significance of the biological or neurocognitive mechanisms underpinning psychopathy. We claim that casting aside the deficit model (based on the presupposition that psychopaths are intrinsically unlike the rest of us) in favor of a relational and holistic view of personality potentiates a more informed and inclusive set of ethical, forensic, and therapeutic attitudes.

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Volume 4, Issue 2
May 2013

Target Articles.

Ethical Considerations in Deep Brain Stimulation for the Treatment of Addiction and Overeating Associated With Obesity Jared M. Pisapia, Casey H. Halpern, Ulf J. Muller, Piergiuseppe Vinai, John A. Wolf, Donald M. Whiting, Thomas A. Wadden, Gordon H. Baltuch & Arthur L. Caplan