David Shoemaker will present “Psychopathic Responsibility: From Anger to Disdain.”
Feb. 9, 2015. 6pm. 105 Caldwell Hall.
Pizza will be served.
Psychopaths care nothing for others. They enjoy causing pain. They resort to violence or thievery whenever it suits their interests. Yet they also have well-documented psychological and physiological deficits, deficits in pain sensitivity, emotional responses, and empathy. So are they or are they not morally responsible for what they do to us? And to what extent would it be appropriate for us to respond to them with our typical range of responsibility responses, which include anger, moral disapproval, contempt, and disdain? In this talk, I will draw from my pluralistic theory of responsibility to show that there is no simple yes-or-no answer to these questions. Psychopaths are responsible in some senses but not others, so only some of our responses to them are appropriate. Articulating the details of the senses in which they are and aren’t responsible both vindicates our ambivalence toward them and reveals the multitude of capacities needed for robust, paradigm responsibility.
David Shoemaker is a professor of philosophy at Tulane University. He works on agency and responsibility, identity and ethics, and moral psychology. His Responsibility from the Margins is forthcoming (Oxford University Press). His Knowledge, Nature, and Norms: An Introduction to Philosophy, a text and reader written and edited with Mark Timmons (Cengage, 2009). He is also the author of Personal Identity and Ethics: A Brief Introduction, (Broadview Press, 2009) and the editor of Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, volume I (2013) and the co-editor (with Neal Tognazzini) of Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility, volume II (2014), both with Oxford University Press.