Date of Award

Summer 4-26-2010

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

George Graham - Chair

Second Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Third Advisor

Şeyda Özçalışkan


Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder featuring severe social and communicative deficits. Cognitive impenetrability is the inability of systems to be affected by an individual’s beliefs and desires. Individuals with autism have delayed performance on "mindreading" tasks. Mindreading is the interpretation of others which enables successful social interactions. This task performance is not correlated with "everyday" social function in autism. These deficits are in contrast with general intelligence and reasoning abilities within the normal range, resistant to cognitive behavioral training, and partially attributable to atypical social predispositions. This suggests individuals with autism perform social tasks differently than typicals. I argue that this mindreading deficit is cognitively impenetrable, then position this deficit within a theoretical framework, enactivism, emphasizing cognitive embodiment and inseparability of social comprehension and action. This framework helps explain the cognitive impenetrability of these social deficits by "locating" failure to penetrate in individuals' failure to properly interact with the environment.


Included in

Philosophy Commons