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Conceptualising well-being for autistic persons
  1. Ingrid Robeyns
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ingrid Robeyns, Ethics Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht 3512BL, The Netherlands; i.a.m.robeyns{at}uu.nl

Abstract

In the philosophy of well-being, there is hardly anything written on the lives of people with autism or on the question whether existing philosophical theories of well-being are suited for understanding how well the lives of autistic persons are going. This paper tries to make some progress towards filling this gap. I start by giving a concise account of autism, which highlights the huge heterogeneity among autistics. I discuss some basic features of autism, ask whether there are good reasons why we would need an account of well-being specifically for autistics and what philosophical well-being research could learn from being informed by autistic experiences and phenomenology. I then investigate to what extent the capability approach gives us a helpful theory of well-being for autistics, and what looking through an autism-lens can contribute to the further development of the capabilitarian well-being. In particular, I show that some capabilities that are crucially relevant for autistics are also relevant for the lives of non-autistic people. The final part of the paper looks at an important difficulty in using the capabilitarian account of well-being for autistics, namely: should the normative focus be on achievements (functionings) or real opportunities (capabilities)?

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