Keywords: Moral Development; Moral Judgment; Theory of Mind; Social Cognition; Autism Spectrum Disorders.
We review the literature on children's growing sensitivity to intention in attributing moral qualities, both in typical and atypical development. A large number of studies show that, although an early capacity to assess intentions is already present in infancy, only by the age of five-six children's moral judgments rely more on intention than on external outcomes in verbal tasks. In a second part of the present work, we review the relevant literature in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Initial evidence suggests that a basic moral judgment is spared in individuals with Autism. However, it is also becoming clear that a more complex intent-based moral reasoning is delayed and, possibly, does not fully develop in this clinical population.