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Culpability
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of historical, philosophical and religious studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7425-3041
2024 (English)In: Handbook of the philosophy of medicine / [ed] Thomas Schramme; Mary Walker, Dordrecht: Springer, 2024Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

People are morally responsible agents when they are sufficiently rational and in control of themselves. Morally responsible agents may or may not be morally responsible for particular actions, depending on whether they had sufficient control and the information needed in the situation at hand. We can be morally responsible for good, bad, or morally neutral actions. This chapter focuses on culpability – responsibility for bad actions. In cases of mental disorder, rationality and/or control may be diminished, and people might be unable to avail themselves of important information. Nevertheless, the exact difficulties that people struggle with vary, not only between diagnostic categories but within them as well. Culpability assessments are therefore complicated, and must ultimately be done on a case-by-case basis. Psychiatric patients who are exempted from culpability altogether, considered too irrational or out of control to be morally responsible agents at all, may feel dismissed and isolated. Moreover, culpability judgments in clinician-patient relationships are naturally quite fraught. Hierarchical relationships often result in one-sided responsibility practices. In these cases, a person in power holds another person culpable and, at the same time, dismisses attempts to be held culpable by others, most notably people subjected to their power. Finally, it is important to recognize that actions that seem strange and disturbing need not be culpable; they may be excused or even justified. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Dordrecht: Springer, 2024.
Keywords [en]
moral responsibility, blame, mental disorders, psychiatry, exemption, excuse, justification
National Category
Ethics Philosophy Nursing
Research subject
Practical Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-220345OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-220345DiVA, id: diva2:1833701
Available from: 2024-02-01 Created: 2024-02-01 Last updated: 2024-02-01

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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  • Other style
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  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
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