Joel Feinberg

in Problems at the Roots of Law

Published in print February 2003 | ISBN: 9780195155266
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199833177 | DOI:

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Although people are understandably disturbed by the idea of pure evil, they are mistaken to replace it with ideas about sickness and cure. The language family associated with pure evil, or sheer wickedness, focuses not on the sick human being, but on the rationally functioning nonhuman being: the superhuman or the subhuman who has little choice but to be wicked. Even so, wickedness and mental illness (or sick! sick! sickness) have a tendency to fuse at their extreme points. This chapter considers the interrelation between sickness and wickedness as it applies to, among other things, serial killers, medical and nonmedical conceptions of sickness, personality disorders (or ‘personal’ disorders), and the relation between moral blameworthiness and mental illness.

Keywords: blame; evil; mental illness; serial killer; superhuman; wickedness

Chapter.  34788 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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