Autism, episodic memory, and moral exemplars

Philosophical Psychology 29 (6):858-870 (2016)
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This paper presents a challenge for exemplar theories of moral concepts. Some have proposed that we acquire moral concepts by way of exemplars of actions that are prohibited as well as of actions that are required, and we classify newly encountered actions based on their similarity to these exemplars. Judgments of permissibility then follow from these exemplar-based classifications. However, if this were true, then we would expect that individuals who lacked, or were deficient in, the capacity to form or access exemplars of this kind would be similarly deficient in the ability to classify new actions according to them, and this relative inability would be manifested in the moral judgments made by such individuals. However, there is reason to suspect, I think, that a number of individuals who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder actually have the deficiencies I have described here but are nevertheless fully able to make sound moral judgments. If this is so, then it must be th...
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