Can autistic people epistemically love or know of love?
Let's say we are to accept this portion of SEP:
To distinguish loving from liking via the intuition that the “depth” of love is to be explained in terms of a notion of identification: to love someone is somehow to identify yourself with him, whereas no such notion of identification is involved in liking. As Nussbaum puts it, “The choice between one potential love and another can feel, and be, like a choice of a way of life, a decision to dedicate oneself to these values rather than these” (1990, p. 328); liking clearly does not have this sort of “depth.”
But empathy is hard for an autist. It is difficult for them to put themselves in someone’s shoes and imagining their experience(s). Autists cannot feel the perspective of hurt or sad when someone else is in pain. So, how can they love if they can’t identify?
There are, indeed, philosophical issues that go with your question. But I think it's important to address the factual background. The premise of your question is that if someone has autism, she can't, as we say, feel other people's pain, or joy, or... And both from knowing people on the autism spectrum and having read around on the topic, I would say that you're mistaken about that. This link https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/women-autism-spectrum-disorder/202006/can-i-have-empathy-if-i-am-autistic isn't to a scholarly piece, but my sense is that it gets things broadly right. The author is a therapist, and also is on the autism spectrum. Her point is that we need to distinguish between feeling other people's emotions and processing/making sense of cognitively of the incoming information that triggers the feelings. The author puts it in terms of a "time lag": for a person with autism, interpreting cues and making sense of other people's behavior may take longer. But that doesn't mean that people...