Saturday, August 06, 2011

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - The moral judgment of psychopaths

Psychopaths or mentally ill? I have issues with the psychopath diagnosis, and I think it's probably a good thing we do not use it in the States. I tend to believe that no one is born is evil (excluding severe brain damage), so if a person becomes a mass killer there was some serious physical, emotional, and environmental trauma that short-circuited the normal human ability to empathize or feel compassion.

But all of that is another discussion.

Alan Saunders, host of the Philosphers Zone podcast (from ABC Radio National in Australia), speaks with ethics Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong on the moral judgment of psychopaths - everything you think you know about psychopaths may be wrong.

The moral judgment of psychopaths

 (Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)

Our guest this week says psychopaths are rarely high functioning corporate executives with a taste for downsizing. More often, they are low functioning and far more prone than to violent crime than the rest of the population. Today we explore moral judgement, neuroscience, psychopathy and the criminal justice system with ethics Professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong from Duke University in the United States.

Show Transcript


Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics
Department of Philosophy and
The Kenan Institute for Ethics
Duke University
United States

Further Information

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - university homepage

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong - personal homepage
(includes book and paper references)

The Kenan Institute for Ethics (Duke University)

Suffering souls: The search for the roots of psychopathy
Article by John Seabrook in the New Yorkermagazine (10 November 2008)

Carla Harenski - The Mind Institute
neurological studies of psychopathy

Aberrant neural processing of moral violations in criminal psychopaths
Abstract of a study by Carla Harenski and others.


Title: Conscious Will and Responsibility:A Tribute to Benjamin Libet,
Author: Edited by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Lynn Nadel
Publisher: Oxford University Press (2011)
(Oxford Series in Neuroscience, Law and Philosophy)

Title: Morality Without God?
Author: Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Publisher: Oxford University Press (2009)


Alan Saunders