Autism has puzzled and intrigued psychiatrists, psychologists, and philosophers of mind since it was first identified as a diagnostic category by Kanner 1943 and Asperger 1944. The syndrome raises important questions about scientific knowledge and the knowledge possessed by autistic and normal subjects. This paper examines critically the theory of mind hypothesis, which is currently the most widely accepted explanation for the disorder. It argues that the computational model that supports the hypothesis cannot carry its explanatory burden, and it proposes an alternative explanation based on the principles of situated robotics, ethology, and dynamical systems theory. This allows knowledge to be conceptualized as the embodied and situated ability to act appropriately in a variety of contexts, and it sheds new light on the knowledge justification problem.
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