Health and Morality: Two Conceptually Distinct Categories?

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Health and Morality: Two Conceptually Distinct Categories?

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title Health and Morality: Two Conceptually Distinct Categories?
Author(s) Tengland, Per-Anders
Date 2009
English abstract
When seeing immoral actions, criminal or not, we often deem the people who perform them (mentally) unhealthy or disordered. This is especially so if the actions are of a serious nature, e.g., involving murder, rape, or other kinds of violence. That is, we translate our moral evaluation into an evaluation about (mental) health and illness. The question is, how analytically sound is such a move? In this paper I will scrutinize the most common theories of health (and illness) in order to see if they, or any one of them, support the claim that immoral acts are by definition unhealthy? When seeing immoral actions, criminal or not, we often deem the people who perform them (mentally) unhealthy or disordered. This is especially so if the actions are of a serious nature, e.g., involving murder, rape, or other kinds of violence. That is, we translate our moral evaluation into an evaluation about (mental) health and illness. The question is, how analytically sound is such a move? In this paper I will scrutinize the most common theories of health (and illness) in order to see if they, or any one of them, support the claim that immoral acts are by definition unhealthy? The psychological theory of Carl Rogers and the holistic theory of Lennart Nordenfelt are used to frame the issue and show how morality can, in Roger’s case, and cannot, in Nordenfelt’s case, be seen as conceptually related to health. Several versions of a pluralistic holistic theory then are discussed in order to see if, and if so, how, morality can be conceptually related to health. It is concluded that moral abilities and, perhaps also, moral virtues can be seen as being part of the individuals health. It is harder to incorporate moral actions into such a theory. If immoral actions are typical, or cluster, in the individual, or/and if they are of a severe kind, causing serious harm, it is more likely that the person can be deemed unhealthy.
Link http://www.ialmh.org/NewYork2009/Final_book.pdf (external link to publication)
Host/Issue Abstracts of the XXXIst International Congress on Law and Mental Health : Résumés du XXXIe Congrès International de droit et de santé mentale
Pages s 229-230
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Health
Morality
Holistic theory
Virtues
Mental abilities
Medicine
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::History and philosophy subjects::Philosophy subjects
Research Subject Categories::MEDICINE::Psychiatry
Note The XXXIst International Congress on Law and Mental Health, New York University Law School, June 28-July,3, 2009.
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/8976 (link to this page)
Link http://www.ialmh.org/ (external link to related web page)

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