Empathizing with The Intellectually Disabled

In Ana Paula Barbosa-Fohrmann & Sandra Caponi (eds.), Latin American Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Bioethics and Disabilities. Springer Nature. pp. 3-16 (2023)
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Abstract

This chapter is devoted to reflecting on the role of empathy in interactions with people with profound intellectual disabilities. We have a duty to respect people with intellectual disabilities. Respect involves identification with a point of view. We owe them an effort at identification with their perspective. However, if intellectually disabled people’s communicative abilities are impaired, our apprehension of their point of view might be limited, reducing our ability to identify with them and respect them. To answer this challenge, I appeal to empathy. Through imaginative empathy, we can learn to identify with their perspectives. I argue that empathy is a good moral guide and can be helpful in developing respectful attitudes toward people with profound intellectual disabilities.

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Claudia Passos-Ferreira
New York University

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