Neuroethics Publications

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

10-2015

Publication Source

Free Will and the Brain: Neuroscientific, Philosophical, and Legal Perspectives

Start Page

103

Last Page

124

DOI

10.1017/CBO9781139565820.007

Abstract

In our chapter, we discuss one of the most influential compatibilist accounts of free will, Fischer and Ravizza's (1998) reasons-responsiveness theory, and review the empirical literature on psychopathy that addresses the requirements for moral responsibility that are put forward in their account. Reasons-responsive compatibilist views seem to argue for the absence of moral responsibility or at least diminished responsibility when considering psychopathy. Their view draws upon impairments in the relevant kind of reasons-responsiveness in which one is responsive to both prudential and moral reasons. If moral reasons as genuine reasons that may motivate behavior are somehow aliento individuals with psychopathy, can we argue that these individuals are fully responsible for their immoral behavior? Based on empirical findings, we argue that psychopaths have core affective and cognitive deficits that may impair moral rationality. We conclude that the hard determinist, hard incompatibilist, and reasons-responsive compatibilist view suggest that offenders with severe psychopathy should not be held criminally responsible, and that mild psychopathy should function as a mitigating factor allowing for partial criminal responsibility. We should greatly increase our emphasis on early prevention and rehabilitation while ensuring that society is adequately protected and the feelings and rights of victims are respected.

What we fear – or at any rate a very important part of what we fear – in determinism is the prospect that determinism would rule out control, and we very definitely do not want to lose control or be out of control or be controlled by something or someone else – like a marionette or puppet. (Dennett, 1984: 51)

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Date Posted: 14 July 2016

This document has been peer reviewed.