SOPhiA 2013

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programm - Vortrag

Epistemology of Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD): neurodevelopment of sociality and importance of counterfactuals
(Wissenschaftstheorie, Englisch)

Autistic spectrum disorders (ASD) are nosological disorders affecting the neuropsychological development, that may arise during the first years of life. From a clinical perspective, such disorders are characterized by extremely variable qualitative impairments of communication and social interactions, as well as a limited, stereotyped and repetitive inventory of interests and activities. Recent epidemiological studies indicate that ASDs (autism, Asperger syndrome and pervasive developmental disorders) are relatively frequent; in pediatric age group, they show a higher frequency than cancers, diabetes and AIDS combined together, since they affect approximately 1 baby out of 150. Although these constitute high complexity disorders, for which to this day it has not been possible to define a coherent conceptual model correlating different varieties, there is currently a large agreement, based on abundant scientific evidence, about their biological bases. We can reasonably say, therefore, that the different forms of autism that the clinician evaluates in the diagnosis are, on the one hand, the result of a perspective error ascribable to the neurodevelopment of the individual and, on the other hand, the result of actual different biological contingencies underlying what appears to be, in many cases, the same disorder. Autistic spectrum disorders present, indeed, a multi-faceted etiology, in which many unknown genetic risk factors interact with each other and with a large number of environmental factors. Consequently, the dimensional diagnostic category, actually called ASD, needs to be adapted to the single clinical case through specifiers and associated characteristics that define the boundaries of the disease affecting the patient as a unicum. Given the fact that an epistemological study of autistic spectrum disorders offers several keys to understanding the typical condition of development, particularly through deficits regarding social skills, cognitive flexibility, attention, memory, imitation, etc., we wonder if it is possible to isolate a problematic nucleus for this set of disorders, that is linked to the development of motivation toward social stimuli and precedes it. In this sense, the matter of intersubjectivity, in other words of how children come to perceive others as individuals with intentions as well as the planning and fluency of their actions and narrative structures, requires us to shift our attention to sets of behavioural patterns linked to basic social interactions preceding more complex metacognitive abilities: for example, producing counterfactuals as precursors of the symbolic game (pretend play) and the subsequent moral judgement. Thus, individuals with ASD, who are less able to product counterfactuals and therefore fallible in the most common make-believe games and lacking of adequate emotive and imitative coordination, seem to be stuck in the here and now. For such individuals, what might have been is not more important than what has actually occurred, contrarily to what we are prone to think. The capability of producing counterfactuals about the past, thus anticipating the moral judgment on themselves (i.e. remorse, second thoughts and regrets), is therefore prevented. However, the question is: what exactly happens when elaborate mental processes compensating a reality that is excessively real come into play in response to such deficits?

Chair: Florian Boge
Zeit: 10:45-11:15, 13. September 2013 (Freitag)
Ort: HS 105
Anmerkung: ÄNDERUNG. Der Vortrag entfällt!

Carlo Maria Cirino
(Universite degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo, Italien)

Carlo M. Cirino was born in Italy in 1985. After a two-year period of study in architecture at university of Bologna, he moved to Urbino where he obtained his BA degree in Philosophy and Natural Sciences. In the same period he got a two-year Diploma in Eastern Philosophy at the School for Advanced Studies in Eastern and Comparative Philosophy of Rimini. At University of Urbino, he also got his MA degree in Philosophy of Physics and in the same period, he finished the School in Rimini, where he got a Master in Eastern and Comparative Studies. He got also a Master in Philosophical Counseling at University "Regina Apostolorum" in Rome. At the moment he is a PhD student in Science of Complexity at University of Urbino, in the Department of Basic Sciences and Foundations (DiSBeF) and he is conducting an internship at SISSA (International School for Advanced Studies) of Trieste, in the Department of Cognitive and Social Neuroscience. His interests moves from more classic fields like epistemology and philosophy of science to more specific subjects like philosophy of biology and neuroscience to metaphysics. He collaborates with many associations and foundations and has a fair amount of publications.

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