Morality and Psychopathy II

Friday, August 06, 2010 Awais Aftab 10 Comments Category :

Related to the previous post.

Virtue Ethics gives the following reason to be moral: If you want true inner peace and happiness in life, then you have to be moral, because moral virtues are by definition those traits which lead to an inner state of health, happiness and peace.

The statement seems to have empirical correlates: If we can show the presence of a psychopath who is happy and at peace, then the virtue ethics hypothesis would be refuted.

Can a psychopath be truly happy and at peace?

Does a psychopath even feel the need to be happy and at peace?

I don't know.

I guess not.

--------------

The only reason for moral behavior that you can give to a psychopath, that comes to my mind, is that of social functioning. Behave morally because it would allow you to function in the society, get access to food and sex, and avoid being jailed or punished: that is, behave morally because it will further your own interests in some way. But that would only motivate a psychopath to perform the minimum possible of moral behavior that is needed, and at any opportunity that he can get away with, he'll relapse to being manipulative.

It doesn't sound like a reason to be moral; it sounds like a reason to pretend to be moral.

--------------

If there was a purely rational reason to behave morally, then we could convince a psychopath to be moral.

It appears that we cannot convince a psychopath to be moral by reasoning with him.

Therefore, it appears that there is no purely rational reason to be moral.


[Cross-posted to A Myth in Creation.]

RELATED POSTS

10 comments

  1. Besides social acceptance ,the other biggest pillar supporting morality is reward in hereafter...Iguess in an ideal world human morality would spring from Love for humanity and for the Creator ,but as the case stands Greed dictates all our so called moral values.An average person does good deeds to get a good repute IN SOCIETY alongwith insuring a nice place n Hoors etc in the hereafter

    ReplyDelete
  2. N YES CONVINCING AN AMORAL PERSON OF MORAL VALUES DOES SEEM IMPOSSIBLE....BUT I DONT BELIEVE THAT ANY PERSON COULD BE COMPLETELY DEVOID OF MORALITY.I THINK THAT AN INNATE SENSE OF MORALITY IS THERE IN ALL OF US. gREED, INTRESTS, NARCISSISM, AMBITION ...THESE THINGS COULD OCCLUDE THOSE INNATE VALUES BUT NOT COMPLETELY OBLITERATE THEM. pSYCHOPATH HAS A DISEASED MIND, BUT THAT IS THE REASON WE DONT KILL THEM EVEN IF THEY'VE MURDERED A LEGEND LIKE JOHN LENNON......ITS BECAUSE WE FEEL THAT THERE IS HOPE THAT THEIR INNATE INNOCENCE COULD BE REAWAKENED....

    ReplyDelete
  3. Reward in hereafter... ah, well, it's something totally faith-dependent, and strongly inter-related with other ideas like that the source of morality is God, and that heaven and hell are means of divine justice. Philosophically, most of it stands on flimsy grounds. It might be surprising, but the vast majority of people who do not believe in life hereafter (which constitutes the 4th largest religious group in the world) do not cease to be "moral".

    When it comes to psychology, calling something "diseased" is kind of a controversial aspect in itself. As far as my understanding goes, psychopathy is sort of a statistical thing. Human sense of morality varies in a Gaussian distribution curve, and psychopaths are just those people who fall outside a certain percentile. Otherwise, they are part of the same spectrum of "normal" people.

    ReplyDelete
  4. well firstly i never said that religion is the only motivation towards morality ,i said its the OTHER biggest reason
    But i must say i m a bit confused about the statistics here.As far as i know every religion preaches some kind of afterlife, and atheist constitute only 2.5% of world's population.So how can this be 4th largest group.Not that i have any objection towards their choices,but i dont think that they are statistically that much significant.
    As for psychopaths if we accept that they are some mutant personalities not capable of doing good then in my understanding , they should all be killed to protect society. But that seldom happens , because most psychopaths are victims of society.Their personalities only reflect the collective evil of society.I hardly think that they are born deviant.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was referring to the non-religious as a whole.

    http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/worldrel.htm

    They are statistically significant.

    The biggest and principal reason for morality is the innate moral sense.

    Psychopaths are not victims of society. They just happen to be deficient in empathy and moral guilt. The can exhibit moral behavior, but only if it leads to their own self-interest.

    ReplyDelete
  6. society cant just bail out on psychopaths like that.What u say about them might be true for some very rare cases but what about the the child molested in childhood who grows up to be a sadist child molester?

    ReplyDelete
  7. What you are describing is not Psychopathy. It is called Pedophilia in psychiatry. And being sexually abused in childhood is just one of the theorized but indefinite causes of pedophilia.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with strongly amoral conduct, masked by an ability to appear outwardly normal.

    ReplyDelete
  9. i can see my mistake now....i just got a little carried away.Its just thatI've just always been a huge supporter of NURTURE over nature THEORY WHEN IT COMES TO HUMAN BEHAVIOR and the idea of people born with a deviant ,sick personality was quite unpalatable for me

    ReplyDelete