Vice, Disorder, Conduct, and Culpability

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Dr. John Sadler’s interesting paper raises an important issue. It defines vice as criminal, wrongful or immoral behavior. He claims that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) “confounds the concepts of vice and mental illness” and that this confounding has “important implications . . . for the relationship between crime, criminality, wrongful conduct, and mental illness.” The paper correctly notes that disorders for which vice is the primary criterion tend to be impoverished diagnostically and are probably less valid than non–vice-related disorders. Dr. Sadler wonders if the subjects of his case studies are “involved in sick behavior, immoral behavior, both, neither, or some other metaphysical kind altogether.” This is an excellent question that this comment will seek to clarify. It will also consider the moral and legal implications of the answer.

Publication Title

Philosophy, Psychiatry & Psychology

Publication Citation

15 Phil., Psychiatry, & Psychology 47 (2008)

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