The same cannot be said about a businessman who acknowledges that it is morally wrong to cause harm to the environment but then observes that he can lots of money by causing harm to the environment. He insists that it is business. Unlike the businessman, a psychopath cannot set aside his own needs and wants so as to find motivation to act on moral reasons. The businessman on his part makes a decision that moral obligations are less significant than his economic success, meaning that his failure morally is as a result of his priorities and values.
In contrast, the psychopath does not have any moral obligation and has the physical inability to feel any emotions that are necessary to motivate him to acting upon moral demands (Watson 312). Therefore, Watson’s argument is based on the premise that if an agent does not have access to moral reasons, then he cannot be held morally responsible, and since psychopaths lack access to moral reasons, then they cannot be held morally responsible for their actions. However, I disagree with Watson. Psychopaths should be morally responsible for their actions.
While psychopaths may frequently repeat immoralities, this is not an indication that they are not capable of moral reasoning, or that they cannot be morally responsible for their actions. According to Litton (371), evil should not represent its own excuse. For example, some philosophers argue that psychopaths should be exempt from responsibility since they don’t understand moral reasons. However, this view is based on the debatable opinion that comprehension of a moral reason means being motivated to conform to it. Psychopaths don’t have total ignorance of their actions but rather have a shallow understanding that the acts they commit are wrong (Litton 374).
Borrowing from Watson’s Dever story, he notes that he went away without his wife’s knowledge but still she accepted him back when he returned. From this, it can be seen that Dever has the knowledge that she might have refused to accept him back which means he had some knowledge that what he was doing was somehow wrong. Also, Watson argues that psychopaths have deficits in emotional resources for self-control and that is why the lack the ability to empathize after their misdeeds.
However, the appropriate reactions to psychopaths show the attribution of some fundamental moral responsibility, something which offers grounds for mitigated legal punishment. This means that the psychopath’s responsibility cannot be ignored.
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