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Challenges to Moral and Religious BeliefDisagreement and Evolution$
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Michael Bergmann and Patrick Kain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199669776

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199669776.001.0001

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Moral Disagreements with Psychopaths

Moral Disagreements with Psychopaths

(p.40) 2 Moral Disagreements with Psychopaths
Challenges to Moral and Religious Belief

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Oxford University Press

Despite disagreements on some moral issues, almost all individuals and cultures agree on certain basic moral judgments, such as that theft, rape, and murder of peers for personal gain are immoral. Psychopaths seem to be an exception. To test this common assumption, this chapter surveys research on moral judgments in psychopaths. The evidence is less clear than many assume, but probably some psychopaths disagree with our fundamental moral judgments. Does this disagreement support the skeptical conclusion that our fundamental moral judgments are not epistemically justified? Not if psychopaths are irrational, but the argument is that they are not irrational in any way that would justify dismissing their views as irrelevant to moral epistemology. These conclusions have radical implications within many theories, but contrastivist moral epistemology is shown to handle these surprising facts.

Keywords:   disagreement, psychopath, rationality, moral skepticism, moral epistemology, contrastivism

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