Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Autism and manipulation

At present, the hottest argument against determinism may be the manipulation argument. I'd like to briefly consider a counterexample:

I know two people with autistic kids. Autistics sometimes engage in self-injury.

In one case their son has a penchant for swallowing indigestible objects. This is life-threatening. The objects can't safely pass through the digestive system. They must be surgically removed.

Suppose a neurosurgeon could implant a chip in the brain that would block the impulse to commit self-injury. The autistic would thereby be unconsciously determined or manipulated not to engage in self-injury. 

Under those conditions we might say there's nothing praiseworthy about the autistic's self-restraint. But we wouldn't say it was wrong to unconsciously determine or manipulate him not to engage in self-injury.

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