The ability of a group of adults with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger Syndrome (AS) to distinguish moral, conventional and disgust transgressions was investigated using a set of six transgression scenarios, each of which was followed by questions about permissibility, seriousness, authority contingency and justification. The results showed that although individuals with HFA or AS (HFA/AS) were able to distinguish affect-backed norms from conventional affect-neutral norms along the dimensions of permissibility, seriousness and authority-dependence, they failed to distinguish moral and (...) disgust transgressions along the seriousness dimension and were unable to provide appropriate welfare-based moral justifications. Moreover, they judged conventional and disgust transgressions to be more serious than did the comparison group, and the correlation analysis revealed that the seriousness rating was related to their ToM impairment. We concluded that difficulties providing appropriate moral justifications and evaluating the seriousness of transgressions in individuals with HFA/AS may be explained by an impaired cognitive appraisal system that, while responsive to rule violations, fails to use relevant information about the agent’s intentions and the affective impact of the action outcome in conscious moral reasoning. (shrink)
In this study, we investigated the relationships between judgments of intentionality and moral evaluation in individuals with High Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger Syndrome (AS). HFA or AS are neurodevelopmental disorders characterised by severe deficits in communication and social functioning. Impairments in Theory of Mind (ToM), i.e., the ability to attribute mental states to oneself and to others, are thought to be the core features of autism. Of all mental states, the concept of ‘intentional action’ is particularly important. People normally (...) distinguish between actions that are performed intentionally and those that are performed unintentionally and this distinction plays a crucial role in social understanding and moral judgment. Recently, Knobe (Analysis 63: 190–193, 2003a ), (Philosophical Psychology 16: 309–324, 2003b ) showed that people’s moral evaluations might serve as input to the process by which people intuitively arrive at the intentionality judgments. Here, by using two pairs of vignettes, the Knobe’s Harm/Help cases and Murder/Bull’s-eye cases, we showed that, as already observed in typical population, in individuals with HFA/AS judgment of intentional action is informed by the moral appreciation of the action outcome. However, the two groups differed on praise judgments and moral justifications, suggesting that these processes were poorly influenced by the agent’s psychological states. We concluded that, although under certain circumstances, individuals with HFA/AS and people with typical development have similar intuitive judgments of intentionality, over-assignment of praise judgments and the reduced use of folk-psychological concepts in moral judgment likely reflect difficulties using intentionality information for moral reasoning. (shrink)
Motor imagery provides a direct insight into action representations. The aim of the present study was to investigate the level of impairment of action monitoring in schizophrenia by evaluating the performance of schizophrenic patients on mental rotation tasks. We raised the following questions: Are schizophrenic patients impaired in motor imagery both at the explicit and at the implicit level? Are body parts more difficult for them to mentally rotate than objects? Is there any link between the performance and the hallucinating (...) symptom profile? The schizophrenic patients displayed the same pattern of performance as the control subjects . More particularly, schizophrenic patients’ reaction time varied as a function of the angular disparity of the stimuli. On the other hand, they were significantly slower and less accurate. Interestingly, patients suffering from hallucinations made significantly more errors than non-hallucinatory patients. We discussed these latter results in terms of deficit of the forward model. We emphasized the necessity to distinguish different levels of action, more or less impaired in schizophrenia. (shrink)
In Feeling of Knowing cases, subjects have a form of consciousness about the presence of a content (such as an item of information) without having access to it. If this phenomenon can be correctly interpreted as having to do with consciousness, then there would be a P-conscious mental experience which is dissociated from access.