Jonathan Glover On The Consciences Of Sociopaths

The moral philosopher Jonathan Glover interviewed a number of anti-social people, including psychopaths, who have committed serious crimes and live in secure hospitals in order to investigate how they think about right and wrong and what sort of conscience they have.  He thinks they have a conscience, but one unlike others’. They have strong feelings about fairness, even favoring retribution and capital punishment, but little sympathy. It’s an authoritarian conscience, rule-worshiping–even to extreme levels that would allow for the same severe punishments to be meted out for relatively minor infractions as for major ones. They also all had atrocious childhoods which hindered their willingness to feel sympathetic emotions and deep respect.

Hear his whole interview with Philosophy Bites, in which he explores the ramifications of his interviews for his understanding of moral responsibility and just punishment, is here.

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