Hot-cold empathy gaps and the grounds of authenticity

Synthese 202 (5):1-24 (2023)
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Hot-cold empathy gaps are a pervasive phenomena wherein one’s predictions about others tend to skew ‘in the direction’ of one’s own current visceral states. For instance, when one predicts how hungry someone else is, one’s prediction will tend to reflect one’s own current hunger state. These gaps also obtain intrapersonally, when one attempts to predict what one oneself would do at a different time. In this paper, we do three things: We draw on empirical evidence to argue that so-called hot-cold empathy gaps arise when one projects one’s own current state into a simulation about another. Second, we argue that this process does not typically confer knowledge, even when the predictions it produces happen to be accurate. Third, we suggest that these results can be used to develop a challenge for L.A. Paul's view that authentic action sometimes requires subjective knowledge of one’s own values and how these values relate to relevant outcomes. We then sketch an alternative view of the epistemic grounds of authenticity, one on which authenticity requires a kind of understanding. The relevant form of understanding can be achieved by subjective knowledge but can also be achieved elsewise, such as through testimony from a close friend about what one values.

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Author Profiles

Christopher Register
University of Oxford
Grace Helton
Princeton University

References found in this work

Transformative Experience.Laurie Ann Paul - 2014 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny.Kate Manne - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2003 - Philosophical Quarterly 53 (210):105-116.

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