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Problems at the Roots of LawEssays in Legal and Political Theory$
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Joel Feinberg

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195155266

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195155262.001.0001

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Fusion

Fusion

The Blending of Moral and Psychiatric Judgments

Chapter:
(p.193) 7 Fusion
Source:
Problems at the Roots of Law
Author(s):

Joel Feinberg

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195155262.003.0007

This chapter considers the complexities arising from the fusion of moral and psychiatric norms. Although mental sickness is a traditional ground in both law and morality for the mitigation of culpability, it is seldom regarded now as a serious criminal defense. The present trend is to use the idea of sickness to condemn the behavior and aggravate culpability. Concerning the relation between sickness and wickedness, over time, these concepts have blurred together; both are complex and each contains elements of the other. By taking an historical approach, we see that concepts of mental illness and immorality first intermingled in the dialogues of Plato, who held that to have a morally bad character is to be out‐of‐kilter, a state that is difficult to distinguish from mental illness.

Keywords:   culpability, morality, norms, Plato, psychiatry, sickness, wickedness

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