Transgressors, victims, and cry babies: Is basic moral judgment spared in autism?

Social Neuroscience 1:270283 (2006)

Authors
Alan M. Leslie
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Abstract
Human social intelligence comprises a wide range of complex cognitive and affective processes that appear to be selectively impaired in autistic spectrum disorders. The study of these neuro- developmental disorders and the study of canonical social intelligence have advanced rapidly over the last twenty years by investigating the two together. Specifically, studies of autism have provided important insights into the nature of ‘theory of mind’ abilities, their normal development and underlying neural systems. At the same time, the idea of impaired development of the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying ‘theory of mind’ has shed new light on the nature of autistic disorders. This general approach is not restricted to the study of impairments but extends to mapping areas of social intelligence that are spared in autism. Here we investigate basic moral judgment and find that it appears to be substantially intact in children with autism who are severely impaired in ‘theory of mind’. At the same time, we extend studies of moral reasoning in normal development by way of a new control task, the ‘cry baby’ task. Cry baby scenarios, in which the distress of the victim is ‘unreasonable’ or ‘unjustified,’ do not elicit moral condemnation from normally developing preschoolers or from children with autism. Judgments of moral transgressions in which the victim displays distress are therefore not likely the result of a simple automatic reaction to the distress and more likely involve moral reasoning. Mapping the cognitive co-morbidity patterns of disordered development should encompass both impairments and sparings because both will be needed to make sense of the neural and genetic levels.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

How Does Moral Judgment Work?Joshua Greene & Jonathan Haidt - 2002 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6 (12):517-523.

View all 14 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Person as Scientist, Person as Moralist.Joshua Knobe - 2010 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (4):315.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Autism: Mind and Brain.Uta Frith & Elisabeth Hill (eds.) - 2004 - Oxford University Press.
Reflections on 'Autistic Integrity'.Barbara Russell - 2012 - Bioethics 26 (3):164-170.
Explaining Impaired Play in Autism.Somogy Varga - 2010 - Journal für Philosophie Und Psychiatrie 3 (1):1-13.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-12-22

Total views
173 ( #44,095 of 2,272,244 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
33 ( #26,363 of 2,272,244 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature