Article Text

Download PDFPDF
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}


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)?

  • Ethics

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Linked Articles