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Conscience as the rational deficit of psychopaths

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I develop here a Kantian framework for understanding conscience in order to examine whether moral flaws of psychopaths are traceable to their dysfunctional conscience. When understood as the reflective capacity for moral self-assessment that triggers certain emotional reactions, conscience proves to be a fruitful tool for explaining psychopathic moral incompetence. First, I show how the unrealistic moral self-assessment of psychopaths affects their competence in judging moral issues and in being motivated to act morally. I then highlight how focusing on this specific rational deficit of psychopaths significantly modifies the status of rationalism within the contemporary dispute as to whether psychopathy supports sentimentalism exclusively.
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Keywords: Conscience; Moral Self-Assessment; Psychopaths; Rational Deficit

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 17 November 2015

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