Chapter 12. Responsibility, Agency, and Cognitive Disability

  1. Eva Feder Kittay Distinguished Professor senior fellow2 and
  2. Licia Carlson Ph.D. assistant professor3
  1. David Shoemaker associate professor

Published Online: 18 AUG 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444322781.ch12

Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy

Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy

How to Cite

Shoemaker, D. (2010) Responsibility, Agency, and Cognitive Disability, in Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Moral Philosophy (eds E. F. Kittay and L. Carlson), Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444322781.ch12

Editor Information

  1. 2

    Stony Brook University/SUNY, USA

  2. 3

    Providence College, USA

Author Information

  1. Tulane University, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 AUG 2010
  2. Published Print: 14 MAY 2010

Book Series:

  1. Metaphilosophy Series in Philosophy

Book Series Editors:

  1. Armen T. Marsoobian,
  2. Brian J. Huschle and
  3. Eric Cavallero

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405198288

Online ISBN: 9781444322781



  • responsibility, agency and cognitive disability;
  • “Moral community,” art in philosophy, and collection of moral agents;
  • mild mental retardation (MMR) with psychopathy - among adults;
  • adults with MMR - as mentally retarded, function of scoring 69 or lower on IQ test;
  • mentally retarded, often thought to be “eternal children”;
  • adults with MMR, more or less permanently - in concrete operations stage;
  • psychopaths, outside boundaries of moral community, ineligible for moral responsibility;
  • MMR, moral responsibility and moral community;
  • first puzzle, criminal and moral responsibility - adult with MMR, member of moral community, eligible for assessments of moral responsibility;
  • second puzzle, degrees of accountability - adults with MMR, adults as members of moral community


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Adults with MMR

  • Psychopathy and Disability

  • MMR, Moral Responsibility, and Moral Community

  • The First Puzzle: Criminal and Moral Responsibility

  • The Second Puzzle: Degrees of Accountability

  • Conclusion

  • Acknowledgments

  • References