Empathy and Instinct: Cognitive Neuroscience and Folk Psychology

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (5):467-482 (2009)
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Abstract

Might we have an instinctive tendency to perform helpful actions? This paper explores a model under development in cognitive neuroscience that enables us to understand what instinctive, helpful actions might look like. The account that emerges puts some pressure on key concepts in the philosophical understanding of folk psychology. In developing the contrast, a notion of embodied beliefs is introduced; it arguably fits folk conceptions better than philosophical ones. One upshot is that Humean insights into the role of empathy and instinct in the production of helpful actions are affirmed.

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Anne Jacobson
University of Houston

References found in this work

A treatise of human nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1978 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge & P. H. Nidditch.
Actions, Reasons, and Causes.Donald Davidson - 1963 - Journal of Philosophy 60 (23):685.
Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:321-332.
Representation Reconsidered.William M. Ramsey - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.

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