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Psychopathy and Culpability: How Responsible is the Psychopath for Criminal Wrongdoing?

58 Pages Posted: 12 Aug 2011 Last revised: 13 Sep 2011

Adam R. Fox

University of California, Irvine - Department of Philosophy

Trevor H. Kvaran

University of Arizona - Department of Psychology

Reid Griffith Fontaine

Duke University

Date Written: August 12, 2011

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Fox, Adam R. and Kvaran, Trevor H. and Fontaine, Reid Griffith, Psychopathy and Culpability: How Responsible is the Psychopath for Criminal Wrongdoing? (August 12, 2011). Law and Social Inquiry, Forthcoming; FSU College of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 521. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1908749

Adam Fox (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Philosophy ( email )

85 Humanities Instructional Building
University of California
Irvine, CA 92697-4555
United States

Trevor Kvaran

University of Arizona - Department of Psychology ( email )

1503 E. University Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85721
United States

Reid Fontaine

Duke University ( email )

United States

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