Can chimpanzees be psychopaths?
by Xavier Symons | 19 Nov 2016 |- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/can-chimpanzees-be-psychopaths/12094#sthash.vsiPiKFf.dpuf
Psychopaths have long pricked the curiosity of philosophers; they do after all, say a lot about what it means for humans to be morally aware social agents.
But why should we presume that only human beings are psychopaths? If indeed some non-human animals are conscious beings, then it seems by the same token that some may suffer from psychopathy.
Here’s what philosopher, neuroscientist and prolific blogger Andrew Vierra had to say:
“...the DSM-5 defined psychopathy in terms of behaviors. Individuals who had (e.g.) repeatedly broken the law and pathologically lied could be diagnosed as psychopaths, without the need for a personality inventory or fMRI scan.
One interesting consequence of defining psychopathy in terms of behavior is that it is at least theoretically possible for non-human animals (or perhaps extraterrestrial beings) to exhibit the requisite behaviors sufficient for a diagnosis.”
Recent behavioral research into psychopathy was recently conducted using chimpanzees as a model. A research team led by academics from Georgia State University studied three traits in chimpanzees which they took to be indicative of psychopathy: disinhibition, meanness, and boldness.
While the paper was not intended to be a foray into animal psychiatry, it is, nevertheless, food for thought for those interested in related philosophical debates- See more at: http://www.bioedge.org/bioethics/can-chimpanzees-be-psychopaths/12094#sthash.vsiPiKFf.dpuf
In 2005 Peter Singer confidently forecast the demise of the "sanctity of life" by 2040. His objections to the idea were mainly philosophical, but he cited two piece of evidence. One was the amazing success of a South Korean scientist named Hwang Woo-suk in creating embryonic stem cell lines. The other was the continuing advance of legal assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Within months, Hwang Woo-suk was exposed as one of the greatest scientific frauds of the last century. As for euthanasia, Singer could still be right (although fears do persist that it could become, in his words, a "holocaust)". One out of two is not an impressive result and does little to inspire confidence in his prediction.
But there is another problem with Singer's critique of the sanctity of life argument, as we report this week. A British bioethicist, David Albert Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, points out that it was not Christians who "invented" the sanctity of life, but Singer and his cronies. In a very thought-provoking article in The New Bioethics, he says that "sanctity of life" is just a straw man set up to label discredit arguments against Singer's "quality of life" approach. It is a controversial thesis which deserves to be debated.
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