The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

1 January 2017

The Thoughts of Christopher Boone Many believe that those with autism do not have the capacity of developing moral agency without empathy. Kids at a young age are taught the lessons of good and bad of what other people see as good that impacts on them as they grow up. The same concept goes with Christopher in the novel of, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon, that endorse the fact that he has autism is able to learn right and wrong without feelings.

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He is viewed as naive, but gives that sense of innocence of nature through the way he portrays his thoughts to action. To fully understand Christopher on whether he has moral agency is better developed in the essay, “Autism, Empathy and Moral Agency” by Jeanette Kennett, a psychologist who depicts beneficial research that characterizes how it is seen. She supports the idea that autistic individuals are able to possess an ability to form moral agency while the lack of empathy by the development through alternate means.

Even though Christopher is considerdered to be incompatible at expressing his feelings, it shows through his actions and proves the existence of his moral agency. Moral agency is the ability of a person to be able to see someone who puts others feelings into account when making a decision on what is the right thing to do, which Christopher has made apparent signs of doing. His father gets really upset when Christopher wants to investigate Wellington’s death, a neighbor’s dog he liked, and when he notices this he decides he should stop talking because he doesn’t want him to get even angrier.

Christopher has difficult times in understanding the the emotions of others, but he is able to judge the response given. He also comes across his dad tearing and connects that to being sad, “I decided to leave him alone because when I am sad I want to be left alone” (Haddon 21). He bases his decision off of what he would want to be done for himself that he feels would be appropriate. The ways he thinks are related to what he experiences with himself and others.

Kennett proves this by expressing that, “Without he capacity to catch moods and to find our responses changed in the light of the responses of others, perhaps we lack the very basis for moral concern, and so we shall fail to become moral agents” (Kennett 345). Christopher is able to identify the expressions of others to make his own decisions that displays his sense of possessing moral concern. The response that Christopher presents to his thoughts displays moral agency. Like any other child, many experience curiosity and inputs their actions that is the same for Christopher as he wants to investigate the dog’s death, but his father has him promise not to.

He believes that, “When someone gets murdered you have to find out who did it so that they can be punished” (Haddon 20). Christopher chooses to reason with his father’s promise because he knows that it would be the right thing to do to search for the murderer. The way that Christopher reasons his promise are too literal and proves that not every kid can keep a promise; it is normal for one to find ways of making decisions. Before entering his father’s room to find his book, he knows his dad would get angry if he messes with his stuff and resolves to placing things back to where they were as to not make him angry.

He considers his actions as being wrong, but in the process finds letters from his mother and thought it appropriator to take a few because they were addressed for him. He confirms with himself that it is okay for him to read them since the letter was intended for him (96). Kennett identifies autistic individuals “do in some cases seem capable of compensating for this deficit and becoming conscientious, though often clumsy, moral agents” (Kennett 345).

The situation that Christopher finds ways to his father’s promise puts him more into a state that he does not think much of the consequences for his actions, but first intends to think through what he may be done without any further thought. Christopher made a Get Well card for his mother in the hospital that relates to what he knows should be done. He gives a reason why he does this was “because that is what you do for people when they are in the hospital” (Haddon 23).

Here the readers may see that it was something that he had to do. Kennett claims that “In the case of many austistic people rules of conduct are not self-developed”, but we have to remember that it was an act “of a more explicit practical concern to do the right thing” (Kennett 352). These are based on the Kantian motive of duty that “moral feeling has little or nothing to do with emotional connectedness to others”, but without any moral feelings that completely lack capacity would be considered “morally dead” (qtd. in Kennett 353).

The essence of Kennett’s argument is that reasons are good enough for Christopher where he at least knows what it is that he is doing was good. Christopher is capable of showing moral agency. He understands the logic to one dying from the cold and can perform the task of caring for one by doing the right thing. He flees into his own back yard with his pet rat and realized that the air was too chili for his pet and with one of his coats, drapes it around the cage because he “didn’t want him to get a cold and die” (Haddon 124).

This action tells us that he has love for his pet and he cares to be able to make a decision for what was best and not that he had. Kennett responds that “Many autistic people display moral concerns, moral feeling and a sense of duty or conscience” (Kennett 349). Her statement emphasizes that Christopher is a person and his sense to exhibit his responsibility of choosing the best thing for his pet when necessary. Christopher was able to give us a chance to tell that he does have moral agency, but a developing one that he continues to learn throughout his childhood experiences.

When coming across an autistic child, people may not acknowledge the way that these special people’s lives are when they find it even hard to know how they live other than themselves. Christopher has to go through the difficulties of understanding most people as others come about it naturally.

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