Brzović, Z. (in press). Devitt’s promiscuous essentialism. Croatian Journal of Philosophy.

Marko Jurjako, Luca Malatesti, and John McMillan, eds. (forthcoming). Psychopathy: philosophical and empirical challenges, special issue of the European Journal of Analytic Philosophy.

1. David Cooke (University of Bergen): Psychopathic personality disorder: Capturing an elusive concept
2. Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen (University of Toronto): False-positives in psychopathy assessment: Proposing theory-driven exclusion criteria in research sampling
3. Janko Međedović (Institute of criminological and sociological research in Belgrade) et al.: Delineating psychopathy from cognitive empathy: The case of Psychopathic Personality Traits Scale
4. Heidi Maibom (University of Cincinnati): What can philosophers learn from psychopathy?
5. Anneli Jefferson (University of Birmingham) and Katrina Sifferd (Elmhurst College): Are psychopaths legally insane?
6. Erick Ramirez (Santa Clara University): Shame, embarrassment, and the subjectivity requirement

Jurjako, M., Malatesti, L. and Brazil, I. (2018). Some ethical considerations about the use of biomarkers for the classification of adult antisocial individuals. International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, Advanced online publication DOI: 10.1080/14999013.2018.1485188

Abstract. It has been argued that a biomarker-informed classification system for antisocial individuals has the potential to overcome many obstacles in current conceptualizations of forensic and psychiatric constructs and promises better targeted treatments. However, some have expressed ethical worries about the social impact of the use of biological information for classification. Many have discussed the ethical and legal issues related to possibilities of using biomarkers for predicting antisocial behaviour. We argue that prediction should not raise the most pressing ethical worries. Instead, issues connected with ‘biologisation’, such as stigmatization and negative effects on self-image, need more consideration. However, we conclude that also in this respect there are no principled ethical objections against the use of biomarkers to guide classification and treatment of adult antisocial individuals.

Brzović, Z. (2018). Natural kinds. The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. ISSN 2161-0002

Abstract. A large part of our exploration of the world consists in categorizing or classifying the objects and processes we encounter, both in scientific and everyday contexts. There are various, perhaps innumerable, ways to sort objects into different kinds or categories, but it is commonly assumed that, among the countless possible types of classifications, one group is privileged. Philosophy refers to such categories as natural kinds. Standard examples of such kinds include fundamental physical particles, chemical elements, and biological species. The term natural does not imply that natural kinds ought to categorize only naturally occurring stuff or objects. Candidates for natural kinds can include man-made substances, such as synthetic elements, that can be created in a laboratory. The naturalness in question is not the naturalness of the entities being classified, but that of the groupings themselves. Groupings that are artificial or arbitrary are not natural; they are invented or imposed on nature.  Natural kinds, on the other hand, are not invented, and many assume that scientific investigations should discover them.

This article describes the three most prominent accounts of natural kinds: essentialism, cluster kinds, and promiscuous realism. It spells out some of the features standardly associated with natural kinds and then examines the three views on natural kinds via specific examples of candidates for natural kinds in chemistry, biology and psychiatry. The final section discusses the metaphysics of natural kinds and offers a systematization of the possible views.

Brzović, Z., Jurjako, M. and Malatesti, L. (2018). Il modello medico forte e i disturbi antisociali della personalità (Eng. The strong medical model and the antisocial personality disorders). Sistemi intelligenti, 30(1), 175188. DOI: 10.1422/89324

Abstract. Dominic Murphy in several authoritative and influential publications has formulated and defended what he calls the strong medical model of mental illness. This model requires classifying mental illnesses in terms of their causes. We share this project, and we justify it with an argument that concerns natural kinds. We also argue that there is a proposal for classifying antisocial personality disorders that is well motivated and agree with Murphy’s strong medical model. We note that such an application may require to renounce Murphy’s thesis that mental illness status should be based on objective dysfunctions in neurocognitive processes. We believe, however, that this does not represent an insurmountable obstacle to the construction of a classification of anti-social personality disorders that is based on causes.

Malatesti, L. and Čeč, F. (forthcoming). Identification and self-knowledge. In Pedrini, P. and Kirsch J. (Eds.), The look inside. Third Person, Self-Interpretation, and Narrative.  Springer.

Abstract. Recently, Matt King and Peter Carruthers have argued that the Real Self accounts of moral responsibility or autonomy are under pressure because they rely on a questionable conception of self-knowledge of propositional attitudes, such as beliefs and desires. In fact, they defend, as a plausible assumption, the claim that transparent self-knowledge of propositional attitudes is incompatible with mounting evidence in the cognitive sciences. In this chapter, we respond to this line of argument. We describe the types of self-knowledge that might plausibly be involved, as psychological prerequisites, in the processes of identification and integration that lead to the constitution of the real self of an agent. We argue that these forms of self-knowledge do not require the type of transparent knowledge of propositional attitudes that, according to King and Carruthers, is incompatible with the results of contemporary cognitive science.

D’Alessio, V., Čeč, F. and Karge, H. (2017). Crime and Madness at the Opposite Shores of the Adriatic: Moral Insanity in Italian and Psychiatric Discourse, Acta medico-historica Adriatica, 15(2), 219-252.

Abstract. In the 19th century, fervid debates arose in the young psychiatric science about how to deal with and to scientifically categorize human behaviour which was perceived as dangerous to society, and as criminal. There were two concepts that stood out in these transnationally held discussions; namely moral insanity and later on, psychopathy. Following recent approaches in the cultural and social history of psychiatry, we understand moral insanity and psychopathy as social constructs, which are determined by the evolution in psychiatric knowledge, and also by laws, codes and social norms of particular historical time frames. Our task is to discuss the evolution and adoption of these concepts in two linguistically different, but still historically profoundly entangled regions, namely in Italian and Croatian psychiatric discourses at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century. Our analysis of two of the most important medical and psychiatric journals of the time shows that psychiatric debates on antisocial and criminal behaviour were in numerous ways entangled and shaped by the way the two societies scientifically, legally, and institutionally struggled over the question of how to detect and control the mentally incapacitated criminal offender.

Brzović, Z., Jurjako, M. and Šustar, P. (2017). The Kindness of Psychopaths, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 31(2), 189–211.

Abstract. Psychopathy is a personality disorder that has attracted considerable interdisciplinary interest. In fact, the idea of a group of people with abnormal morality and interpersonal relations raises important philosophical, legal, and clinical issues. However, before engaging these issues, we ought to examine whether this category is scientifically grounded, namely whether this way of grouping individuals is explanatory and not merely a byproduct of our tendency to segregate people seemingly different from us. In this paper, we frame the issue in terms of the question whether ‘psychopathy’ designates a natural kind. We argue that currently there is no sufficient evidence for an affirmative answer to this question. Furthermore, we draw some philosophical implications of this result and examine three ways of dealing with the category of psychopathy. We could eliminate the category, revise it, or subscribe to a more encompassing account of kinds, which will be able to capture psychopathy as it is currently conceptualized. We argue that a revision of the category of psychopathy is to be expected with empirical and theoretical advancements. However, we also emphasize its current role in research, clinical and forensic practices as a scientific category in the making, or as we argue, a pragmatic kind.

Jurjako, M. (2017). Normative Reasons: Response-Dependence and the Problem of Idealization. Philosophical Explorations, 20(3), pp. 261-275. DOI: 10.1080/13869795.2017.1381274

Philosophical Exploration’s Prize winning essay for 2017

Abstract. David Enoch, in his paper “Why idealize?”, argues that theories of normative reasons that hold that normative facts are subject or response dependent and include an idealization condition might have a problem in justifying the need for idealization. I argue that at least some response dependence conceptions of normative reasons can justify idealization. I explore two ways of responding to Enoch’s challenge. One way involves a revisionary stance on the ontological commitments of the normative discourse about reasons. To establish this point, I argue by analogy with the case of color perception. To make the analogy, it suffices to show that even if colors are response dependent properties, it does not follow that some kind of idealization cannot be introduced to specify the truth conditions of color ascriptions. The second route involves the denial of Enoch’s contention that our normative discourse is implicitly committed to a realist ontology. I adduce reasons for thinking that our normative discourse only presupposes a possibility of misrepresentation. However, this feature of the normative discourse does not favor robustly objectivist as opposed to response dependence accounts of normative reasons. Thus, I argue that proponents of response dependence accounts can use this feature to answer the question of why to idealize.

Malatesti, L. and Čeč, F. (2017). Psychopathy, identification and mental time travel. In Pečnjak, D. and Grgić, F. (Eds.), Facets of Free Will, Conference Proceedings, Springer.

Abstract. In this paper, we argue that certain studies on the instrumental learning on psychopaths show that, in relation to certain specific situations, these subjects might be impaired in certain capacities for mental time travel. Following Harry Frankfurt, we maintain that moral responsibility requires a capacity to identify with certain desires. In our view, this process of identification involves accepting desires in virtue of an evaluation that is sensitive to commitments that stem from previously formed mental states. Therefore, identification relies on some basic capacities of mental time travel. Moreover, we argue that a process of “detachment” from current operative desires is of central importance in the process of identification. Finally, we claim that certain experiment concerning the instrumental learning in psychopaths show that, in certain cases, they are incapable to register changes in their situation that determine a lack of detachment from certain current operative motivational states. However, other experiments show that psychopaths, in other circumstances, are capable of “detaching” from certain of their motivational states. These empirical findings allow us to argue that the process of identification in psychopathic offenders in certain specific circumstances might be impaired.

Jurjako, M. and Malatesti, L. (2018). Neuropsychology and the criminal responsibility of psychopaths: Reconsidering the evidence. Erkenntnis, 83, 1003–1025. DOI: 10.1007/s10670-017-9924-0

Abstract. Recently it has been argued that certain neuropsychological findings about the decision-making, instrumental learning, and moral understanding in psychopathic offenders offer reasons to consider them not criminally responsible, due to certain epistemic and volitional impairments. We reply to this family of arguments, that collectively we call the irresponsibility of the psychopath argument (IPA for short). This type of argument has a premise that describe or prescribe the deficiencies that grant or should grant partial or complete criminal exculpation. The other premise contends that neuropsychological evidence shows that psychopaths have incapacitates that are sufficient to ascribe complete or partially exculpatory deficiencies. The focus of our criticism is this latter premise. We argue that it requires that psychopathy should correlate significantly with certain rational incapacities that manifest across contexts. We show that the available neuropsychological data do not support the claim that psychopaths have such general exculpatory incapacities.

Baccarini, E. and Malatesti, L. (2017). The moral bioenhancement of psychopaths. Journal of Medical Ethics. Advanced online edition.

Abstract. We argue that the mandatory moral bioenhancement of psychopaths is justified as a prescription of social morality. Moral bioenhancement is legitimate when it is justified on the basis of the reasons of the recipients. Psychopaths expect and prefer that the agents with whom they interact do not have certain psychopathic traits. Particularly, they have reasons to require the moral bioenhancement of psychopaths with whom they must cooperate. By adopting a public reason and a Kantian argument, we conclude that we can justify to a psychopath being the recipient of mandatory moral bioenhancement because he has a reason to require the application of this prescription to other psychopaths.

Jurjako, M. and Malatesti, L. (2018). Psychopathy, executive functions, and neuropsychological data: A response to Sifferd and Hirstein. Neuroethics, 11, 55-65. DOI: 10.1007/s12152-016-9291-6

Abstract. Katrina Sifferd and William Hirstein, in their paper ‘On the criminal culpability of successful and unsuccessful psychopaths’, argue that neuropsychological data show that unsuccessful psychopaths have diminished mental capacities that warrant a partial or diminished responsibility defence. We respond that the currently available neuropsychological evidence does not warrant their conclusion that unsuccessful psychopaths should not be deemed completely legally responsible. Instead, we maintain that the current state of this type of research suggests that psychopaths might be suffering very specific cognitive impairments. However, the impact that these impairments might have on the specific criminal behaviours that courts have to assess is far from clear.

Brzović, Z., Hodak, J., Malatesti, L., Šendula-Jengić, V. and Šustar P. (2016). Problem klasifikacije u filozofiji psihijatrije: slučaj psihopatije (Eng. The problem of classification in philosophy of psychiatry: the case of psychopathy). Prolegomena, 15(1), pp. 21–41.

Abstract. The aim of this paper is to analyze, from a philosophical perspective, the scientific robustness of the construct of psychopathy as measured by the Psychopathy Checklist Revised that was developed by Robert Hare (1991; 2003). The scientific robustness and validity of classifications are topics of many debates in philosophy of science and philosophy of psychiatry more specifically. The main problem consists in establishing whether scientific classifications reflect natural kinds where the concept of a natural kind refers to the existence of some objective divisions in nature that do not depend exclusively on subjective judgments of the classifier. The construct of psychopathy is especially interesting since the diagnosis of psychopathy has substantial social consequences. In the light of the recent debates regarding the problem of natural kinds in philosophy of psychiatry, we advocate the following distinction between two types of scientific classifications: natural and practical kinds. Natural kinds refer to those categories that are united by common causal mechanisms or properties. Practical kinds refer to categories that fulfill some practical classificatory goals such as prediction. We argue that the construct of psychopathy can fulfill the role of a practical kind. In addition, we contend that our current scientific knowledge about psychopathy does not allow us to conclude that this category is a natural kind.

Jurjako, M. and Malatesti, L. (2015/2016). Metaphilosophy in Practice: The Responsibility of Psychopathic Offenders as a Case Study. Anthropology and Philosophy, 12, pp. 85-100.

Abstract. We argue that philosophy has an important role to play in bridging certain social practices with certain scientific advancements. Specifically, we describe such a role by focusing on the issue of how and whether neuropsychological data concerning psychopathic offenders reflect on their criminal culpability. We offer some methodological requirements for this type of philosophical application. In addition, we show how it might help in addressing the problem of determining the criminal responsibility of psychopathic offenders.

Brzović, Z. (2016). Duševne bolesti i rasprava o biološkim funkcijama (Eng. Mental illness and the debate about biological functions). In S. Prijić-Samaržija, L. Malatesti, & E. Baccarini (eds.), Moralni, politički i epistemološki odgovori na društvene devijacije. (Eng. Moral, political, and epistemological responses to antisocial deviation). Rijeka: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, pp. 183-200.

Abstract. In this paper, I discuss the question whether objective criteria could be provided for judging something to be a mental illness. I consider the two most prominent objectivist or naturalistic accounts of mental illness, evolutionary and bio-statistical account, which offer such a criterion by relying on the notion of biological function. According to such suggestions, illness is a condition in which there is dysfunction in some feature of an organism. In this context, I consider different accounts for ascribing functions in biology and their relationship with the suggested accounts of illnesses. Special focus is placed on the objections according to which the ascription of functions, as envisaged in naturalistic accounts of illness, is incompatible with actual medical and psychiatric practice. I conclude that these objections are legitimate insofar we want to an account of illness that preserves the current practice of ascribing illness. However, the question remains, could a theory that tries to capture the actual medical practice be value-neutral, since our ordinary conception of illness is permeated with value judgments that indirectly enter into medical practice. In that respect, it seems that the requirement for pure objectivity is too strong and thus, it is not reasonable to expect that naturalistic accounts can satisfy it.

Malatesti, L. and Jurjako, M. (2016). Vrijednosti u psihijatriji i pojam mentalne bolesti (Eng. Values in psychiatry and the concept of mental illness). In S. Prijić-Samaržija, L. Malatesti, & E. Baccarini (eds.), Moralni, politički i epistemološki odgovori na društvene devijacije. (Eng. Moral, political, and epistemological responses to antisocial deviation). Rijeka: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, pp. 153-181.

Abstract. The crucial problem in the philosophy of psychiatry is to determine under which conditions certain behaviors, mental states, and personality traits should be regarded as symptoms of mental illnesses. Participants in the debate can be placed on a continuum of positions. On the one side of the continuum, there are naturalists who maintain that the concept of mental illness can be explained by relying on the conceptual apparatus of the natural sciences, such as biology and neuroscience. On the other side of the continuum, there are normativists who maintain that the appropriate characterization of the concept of mental illness cannot avoid reference to epistemic, moral and other social values. Although, this article is primarily an introduction to the debate, we stress the importance of the normativist positions.

Malatesti, L. 2016.  Book review of Schramme, Thomas, ed. Being amoral (Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2014). The Journal of Value Inquiry, Online edition pp. 1-5.  DOI:10.1007/s10790-015-9538-1

Jurjako, M. and Malatesti, L. (2016). Instrumental rationality in psychopathy: Implications from learning tasks. Philosophical Psychology, 26(5), pp. 717-731. See the preprint DOI: 10.1080/09515089.2016.1144876

Abstract. The issue whether psychopathic offenders are practically rational has attracted philosophical attention. The problem is relevant in theoretical discussions on moral psychology and in those concerning the appropriate social response to the crimes of these individuals. We argue that classical and current experiments concerning the instrumental learning in psychopaths cannot directly support the conclusion that they have impaired instrumental rationality, construed as the ability for transferring the motivation by means-ends reasoning. In fact, we defend the different claim that these experiments appear to show that psychopaths in certain circumstances are not aware of the relevant means for their ends. Moreover, we suggest how further empirical research could help to settle the issue.