- Published: November 30, 1999
In the article titled Moral Responsibility and the Psychopath, author Walter Glannon states that psychopaths are those persons who have an “impaired capacity for prudential and moral reasoning due to impaired capacity for empathy, remorse, and sensitivity to fear-inducing stimuli.” However, Glannon rejects the notion that psychopaths are not morally responsible for their behavior as they do show some signs of reasoning in performing their actions.
After reading the article, I realized that I share the same views of Glannon. I believe that in the court of law, psychopaths may be deserving of a lesser sentencing, but their impaired capacity for moral reasoning should not excuse their actions completely. I think that there lies a spectrum of moral control or responsibility, as it is not an “all-or-nothing capacity” as Glannon states in his paper. All psycopaths, to a certain degree, demonstrate some sort of rationale behind their motive. The variation in this recognition may lie somewhere on the spectrum, but that position remains unknown. Perhaps with additional neuroimaging techniques, the severity of moral reasoning impairment may be ascertained. As a result, we would be able to tell exactly where on that spectrum a psychopath lies and thus his sentencing may be appropriate.
Glannon, Walter. “Moral Responsibility and the Psycopath.” Neuroethics 1 (2008): 158-166.