Conscience as the Rational Deficit of Psychopaths

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    I develop here a Kantian framework for understanding conscience in order to examine
    whether moral flaws of psychopaths are traceable to their dysfunctional conscience. When
    understood as the reflective capacity for moral self-assessment that triggers certain
    emotional reactions, conscience proves to be a fruitful tool for explaining psychopathic
    moral incompetence. First, I show how the unrealistic moral self-assessment of
    psychopaths affects their competence in judging moral issues and in being motivated to act
    morally. I then highlight how focusing on this specific rational deficit of psychopaths
    significantly modifies the status of rationalism within the contemporary dispute as to
    whether psychopathy supports sentimentalism exclusively.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1219-1240
    Number of pages21
    JournalPhilosophical Psychology
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Aug-2015


    • Conscience
    • Moral Self-Assessment
    • Rational Deficit
    • Psychopaths

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