Autism, empathy and moral agency

Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):340-357 (2002)
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Abstract

Psychopaths have long been of interest to moral philosophers, since a careful examination of their peculiar deficiencies may reveal what features are normally critical to the development of moral agency. What underlies the psychopath's amoralism? A common and plausible answer to this question is that the psychopath lacks empathy. Lack of empathy is also claimed to be a critical impairment in autism, yet it is not at all clear that autistic individuals share the psychopath's amoralism. How is empathy characterized in the literature, and how crucial is empathy, so described, to moral understanding and agency? I argue that an examination of moral thinking in high-functioning autistic people supports a Kantian rather than a Humean account of moral agency.

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Jeanette Kennett
Macquarie University

Citations of this work

Empathy and the Value of Humane Understanding.Olivia Bailey - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (1):50-65.
The emotional basis of moral judgments.Jesse Prinz - 2006 - Philosophical Explorations 9 (1):29-43.
The empathic brain: how, when and why?Frederique de Vignemont & Tania Singer - 2006 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10 (10):435-441.
On being attached.Monique Lisa Wonderly - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):223-242.

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References found in this work

The metaphysics of morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Mary J. Gregor.
The Possibility of Practical Reason.David Velleman - 2000 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by J. David Velleman.

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