We are pleased to offer ‘Being Amoral: Psychopathy and Moral Incapacity’ edited by Thomas Schramme (MIT, 2014) for review. Expressions of interest from all angles of the medical humanities are welcome, particularly from those with an interest in psychology, philosophy and psychopathy.
‘Psychopathy has been the subject of investigations in both philosophy and psychiatry and yet the conceptual issues remain largely unresolved. This volume approaches psychopathy by considering the question of what psychopaths lack. The contributors investigate specific moral dysfunctions or deficits, shedding light on the capacities people need to be moral by examining cases of real people who seem to lack those capacities.
The volume proceeds from the basic assumption that psychopathy is not characterized by a single deficit–for example, the lack of empathy, as some philosophers have proposed—but by a range of them. Thus contributors address specific deficits that include impairments in rationality, language, fellow-feeling, volition, evaluation, and sympathy. They also consider such issues in moral psychology as moral motivation, moral emotions, and moral character; and they examine social aspects of psychopathic behavior, including ascriptions of moral responsibility, justification of moral blame, and social and legal responses to people perceived to be dangerous.
As this volume demonstrates, philosophers will be better equipped to determine what they mean by “the moral point of view” when they connect debates in moral philosophy to the psychiatric notion of psychopathy, which provides some guidance on what humans need in order be able to feel the normative pull of morality. And the empirical work done by psychiatrists and researchers in psychopathy can benefit from the conceptual clarifications offered by philosophy.’
If you would like to write a review on ‘Being Amoral’ (approximately 1,000-1,500 words in length), then please email our reviews editor with a short explanation of why you are well placed to review the book.