Problem for normative morality? Interesting paper on psychopaths

From: Marc Geddes (
Date: Thu Sep 23 2004 - 00:01:06 MDT

"Despite the appealing consequences promised by
rationalism, Iíll argue that the view is implausible.
There are, I maintain, two quite different kinds of
claims available to the rationalist, a conceptual
claim and an empirical claim. Iíll argue that each of
these claims is threatened by considerations about
psychopaths, but in radically different ways.
Conceptual Rationalism claims that it is part of our
concept of morality that moral requirements are
requirements of reason. The problem with this
proposal is that common views about psychopaths
suggest that Conceptual Rationalism does not capture
our concept of moral requirements. Empirical
Rationalism is immune to these criticisms, for it
claims only that it is an empirical fact about human
psychology that moral judgment derives from our
rational capacities. However, Empirical Rationalism
is seriously threatened by empirical evidence on the
psychology of psychopathy. For recent evidence
indicates that the capacity for moral judgment is in
fact seriously disrupted in psychopaths, but this
seems to be the result of an emotional deficit rather
than any rational shortcomings."

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