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Being AmoralPsychopathy and Moral Incapacity$
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Thomas Schramme

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027915

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027915.001.0001

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Psychopathic Resentment

Psychopathic Resentment

(p.209) 9 Psychopathic Resentment
Being Amoral

John Deigh

The MIT Press

The egocentricity of psychopaths seems to be a plausible basis for assuming an incapacity regarding reactive attitudes. But the author refers to psychopathic characters drawn from films, who clearly seem to experience resentment. This poses first a conceptual question, as some philosophers identify “moral judgement” with seeing oneself as an addressee of moral reasons. This would make resentment and related reactive attitudes wholly “moralized” emotions, which, in turn, would prevent us from using these emotions to explain moral agency. To sever the strong link between resentment and the capacity for moral judgment seems to be a better basis for explaining psychopathic resentment. It might be possible to establish the phenomenon of resentment without the capacity for moral judgment. Resentment does not require a moral point of view, but merely intentions toward others, a kind of mutual goodwill. The author concludes that psychopaths—in being unable to experience vicarious and self-reactive moral attitudes but being able to show resentment despite a lack of moral judgment—are thoroughly egocentric.

Keywords:   Peter Strawson, reactive attitudes, moral judgment, Stephen Darwall, egocentricity, resentment

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