Moral Madness

David Carr

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One clear reason why human agents often act badly is because they are insufficiently attentive to moral considerations and concerns, or tempted to ignore these in pursuit of more immediate satisfactions. In so far as madness, insanity or mental instability may be regarded as undermining moral agency, it might also be supposed that such madness attaches more to the non-moral than the moral reasons or motives of agents. Still, the well-known quote from Chesterton at the start of this paper may give pause to conventional thought on this matter. With reference to the ideas of Plato and Freud, as well as attention to literary and cinematic "case studies," this paper argues that moral reasons and motives - of an apparently Chestertonian kind - may be a prime source of morally "insane" conduct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-125
Number of pages23
JournalPhilosophical investigations
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

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