Diversifying Syllabi: Thesis: Those affected by mental disorders whose actions are episodically influenced by their disorder are often overlooked by philosophers of moral and ethical responsibility. Allen gives us reasons for thinking it is inappropriate to either:
a) “summarily exclude people with mental problems out of the universe of moral agents, reducing them to the status of rocks, trees, animals, and infants”
b) “include the group on the false assumption that their moral lives are precisely like the paradigmatic moral lives of the epistemically-sound and well-regulated people never personally touched by a mental condition”
We must explore a revised approach to moral and ethical responsibility and obligation for this group.
Comment: This text is useful in teaching in two main contexts: (1) in discussing ethical issues related to mental disorders; and (2) to provide a challenging case in classes on blame and responsibility. The text can be also used in the context of the free will and determinism debate, and as a further reading in classes on moral agency.