What Autism Can Tell Us About the Link between Empathy and Moral Reasoning?

Flavia Felletti


I will discuss the relationship between empathy and moral reasoning among people with autism. I will discuss the deficit that people with autism show in empathy, that affects mostly perspective taking, and the studies conducted by Blair (1996) and Moran et al. (2011), which suggest that people with autism are not significantly impaired in moral reasoning. I will argue that perspective taking might play an important role in moral reasoning. As Moran et al. found, unlike typically developed, people with autism do not judge accidental and attempted harms differently. I will suggest that their deficit in perspective taking might explain this difference. However, I will conclude, studies on autism do not help to assess the influence of the affective components of empathy on moral reasoning.


empathy; moral reasoning; autism; perspective taking

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Phe_Mi-20121

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