Instrumental rationality in psychopathy: implications from learning tasks

Philosophical Psychology 29 (5):717-731 (2016)
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Abstract

The issue whether psychopathic offenders are practically rational has attracted philosophical attention. The problem is relevant in theoretical discussions on moral psychology and in those concerning the appropriate social response to the crimes of these individuals. We argue that classical and current experiments concerning the instrumental learning in psychopaths cannot directly support the conclusion that they have impaired instrumental rationality, construed as the ability for transferring the motivation by means-ends reasoning. In fact, we defend the different claim that these experiments appear to show that psychopaths in certain circumstances are not aware of the relevant means for their ends. Moreover, we suggest how further empirical research could help to settle the issue.

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Author Profiles

Luca Malatesti
University of Rijeka
Marko Jurjako
University of Rijeka