Cultivation of empathy in individuals with high-functioning autism spectrum disorder

Ethics and Education 8 (3):290-300 (2013)
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High-functioning individuals with autism spectrum disorder typically lack cognitive empathy, compromising their moral agency from both a Kantian and a Humean perspective. Nevertheless, they are capable of exhibiting moral behavior, and sometimes, they exhibit what may be deemed ‘super-moral’ behavior. The empathy deficit poses, to varying degrees, limitations with respect to their moral motivation and moral agency. To compensate for this deficit, individuals with HF-ASD rely primarily, and justifiably, on the formation and application of moral rules. Educators who focus predominantly on empathy, however, may be less effective in the moral education of individuals with HF-ASD because they neglect the preference for rules of the latter. In this article, I argue that an individualized balance of empathy-based and rule-based strategies in the context of moral education is needed to assist individuals with HF-ASD in their challenges with moral motivation and moral agency.



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Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Against Empathy.Jesse Prinz - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):214-233.
Moral Sentimentalism.Michael Slote - 2010 - Oxford University Press USA.

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