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date: 18 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the ethical issues associated with criminal offending by presenting a conceptualization of crime within the context of social contract theory. It also considers two issues relevant to psychiatry: the common problem of the person with a mental illness and the professional ethics of psychiatry and its fundamentally contractarian nature. It begins by discussing the problem of criminal offending amongst people affected by mental illness, followed by an analysis of the problem of “evil” in relation to mental illness. It then describes problems surrounding the conceptualization of criminal responsibility in the setting of psychiatric disorder, as well as the putative contribution of neuroscience. Finally, the chapter assesses the contractarian responsibilities of professional psychiatric ethics in the area of criminal offending, paying particular attention to the ethical challenges faced by psychiatrists working with criminal offenders.

Keywords: criminal offending, crime, social contract theory, psychiatry, mental illness, professional ethics, evil, criminal responsibility, neuroscience, criminal offenders

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