April 1, 2019 at 11:00 pm

Lectures in Ethics | Learning from Psychopaths, April 5

David Shoemaker, portrait in office

Dr. David Shoemaker

The Ohio University Lectures in Ethics series presents Dr. David Shoemaker on “Learning from Psychopaths” on Friday, April 5, at 4 p.m. in Scripps 111.

Shoemaker is Professor of Philosophy at Tulane University.

Abstract: Some people have estimated that up to 4 percent of our fellow humans are psychopaths. They often aim to do us harm without compunction. They can be cruel and manipulative. They are without conscience and guilt. And while many are in prison, many others aren’t. Indeed, some of us have been in relationships with them. But they have a variety of psychological impairments (e.g., impairments in empathy, emotion, and prudence), and they have great difficulty seeing why they should care about not hurting us, or why our interests should matter. So what are we to make of them? I aim to show that we can actually learn a lot about ourselves from thinking about psychopaths. In this talk, I will discuss two areas of philosophical interest from which psychopaths are valuable sources of insight: humor and responsibility. Drawing from psychopaths’ poor senses of humor, I will show what a good sense of humor involves, and how it must involve a good sense of morality as well. I will then explore both the moral and criminal responsibility of psychopaths, and show what it means for the relationship between these two types of responsibility, as well as how we may permissibly treat psychopaths when holding them responsible.

This lecture is free and open to the public. It is presented by the Philosophy Department, the Institute of Applied and Professional Ethics, and the Spetnagel Development Fund.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *