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ERIC Number: EJ828864
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Mar
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 70
ISBN: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0305-7240
Are Psychopaths Morally Sensitive?
Maxwell, Bruce; Le Sage, Leonie
Journal of Moral Education, v38 n1 p75-91 Mar 2009
Philosophical and psychological opinion is divided over whether moral sensitivity, understood as the ability to pick out a situation's morally salient features, necessarily involves emotional engagement. This paper seeks to offer insight into this question. It reasons that if moral sensitivity does draw significantly on affective capacities of response, then moral insensitivity should be characteristic of psychopathy, a diagnostic category associated with pathologically low affectivity. The paper considers three bodies of empirical evidence on the moral functioning of psychopaths: (1) psychopathy and the moral/conventional distinction; (2) psychopathy and social perspective-taking competency; and (3) psychopathy and social information processing models of aggressive behaviour. On the basis of this evidence, the conclusion is reached that psychopaths are morally sensitive in the operative sense. Thus, conceptions of moral perception that include affect in their definitions are questionable, as are educational interventions that claim to develop an affective aspect of moral functioning by improving skills in situational moral perception. (Contains 5 notes and 1 table.)
Routledge. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site: http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A