Agency in Mental Disorder

Edited by Matt King & Joshua May (Oxford University Press, 2022)

How exactly do mental disorders affect one’s agency? How might therapeutic interventions help patients regain or improve their autonomy? Do only some disorders excuse morally inappropriate behavior, such as theft or child neglect? Or is there nothing about having a disorder, as such, that affects whether we ought to praise or blame someone for their moral success or failure? Our volume gathers together empirically-informed philosophers who are well equipped to tackle such questions. Contributors specialize in free will, agency, and responsibility, but they are informed by current scientific and clinical approaches to a wide range of psychopathologies, including autism, addiction, Tourette syndrome, personality disorders, depression, dementia, phobias, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. These conditions exhibit a diverse array of symptoms that can contribute quite differently to being blameworthy or praiseworthy.

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“Every chapter in Agency in Mental Disorder is philosophically innovative and nuanced in several directions, as well as deeply empirically informed; the volume as a whole is excellent. I predict that it will become a touchstone philosophical text in discussions about agency and responsibility….”

Lauren Olin (reviewed in Ethics)

“This collection explores an important topic… is both substantive and accessible… [and] is supported by the editors’ strong introduction.”

– W. Simkulet (reviewed in Choice)

Table of Contents

Introduction – Matt King & Joshua May

  1. Quality of Will and (Some) Unusual Behavior – Nomy Arpaly
  2. Disordered, Disabled, Disregarded, Dismissed: The Moral Costs of Exemptions from Accountability – David Shoemaker
  3. Brain Pathology and Moral Responsibility – Anneli Jefferson
  4. Taking Control with Mechanisms of Psychotherapy – Robyn Waller
  5. Legal Insanity and Moral Knowledge: Why Is a Lack of Moral Knowledge Related to a Mental Illness Exculpatory? – Katrina Sifferd
  6. Scrupulosity and Moral Responsibility – Jesse Summers & Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
  7. Addiction and Agency – Justin Clarke-Doane & Kathryn Tabb
  8. Mental Disorders Involve Limits on Control, not Extreme Preferences – Chandra Sripada