Psychopathy and Culpability: How Responsible is the Psychopath for Criminal Wrongdoing?
Adam R. Fox
Georgia State University - Department of Philosophy
Trevor H. Kvaran
University of Arizona - Department of Psychology
Reid G. Fontaine
Florida State University - College of Law
August 12, 2011
Law and Social Inquiry, Forthcoming
FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 521
Recent research into the psychological and neurobiological underpinnings of psychopathy has raised the question of whether, or to what degree, psychopaths should be considered morally and criminally responsible for their actions. In this article we review the current empirical literature on psychopathy, focusing particularly on deficits in moral reasoning, and consider several potential conclusions that could be drawn based on this evidence. Our analysis of the empirical evidence on psychopathy suggests that while psychopaths do not meet the criteria for full criminal responsibility, they nonetheless retain some criminal responsibility. We conclude, by introducing the notion of rights as correlative that even if psychopaths were to be fully non-responsible, it would still be warranted to impose some form of civil commitment.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 58Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 12, 2011 ; Last revised: September 13, 2011
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