It has been argued recently that persons diagnosed with a personality disorder (PD) ought to be held responsible for their actions because these actions are voluntary (Pickard 2011, this journal). In what follows, I argue that this claim is grounded in a conception of voluntary action that is too coarse grained to provide an adequate understanding of the structure of agency in persons diagnosed with PD. When the concept of voluntary action and that of behaviors typical of PD are examined more carefully, the claim that PD behaviors are voluntary turns out to be tenuous in at least two ways. First, it becomes apparent that the grounds provided by Pickard do not conclusively establish that PD behaviors are voluntary. Second, a more refined conception of voluntary agency helps us to appreciate that, if indeed PD behaviors are voluntary, such behaviors seem at best to be voluntary in an anemic and limited senseā€”a sense that is quite distinct from the ordinary sense in which we speak of actions being voluntary.


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pp. 61-73
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