Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 17 (1):97-111 (2014)

Authors
Aaron Simmons
Marywood University
Abstract
It is commonly suggested that empathy is a morally important quality to possess and that a failure to properly empathize with others is a kind of moral failure. This suggestion assumes that empathy involves caring for others’ well-being. Skeptics challenge the moral importance of empathy by arguing that empathy is neither necessary nor sufficient to care for others’ well-being. This challenge is misguided. Although some forms of empathy may not be morally important, empathy with another’s basic well-being concerns is both necessary and sufficient to care for another’s well-being, provided that one’s empathy is both cognitive and affective. I further defend the idea that empathy of this form is a moral virtue. In doing so, I address three challenges to empathy’s status as a virtue: (1) that empathy is unnecessary for being ethical, (2) that it is not useful for promoting ethical behavior, and (3) that an empathetic person can lack other traits central to being virtuous, such as being motivated by the moral good and being disposed to do virtuous things whenever appropriate opportunities arise. I argue that these challenges are mistaken.
Keywords Empathy  Sympathy  Moral virtues
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s10677-013-9417-4
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,410
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Upheavals of Thought.Martha Nussbaum - 2001 - Journal of Religious Ethics 31 (2):325-341.
The Schizophrenia of Modern Ethical Theories.Michael Stocker - 1976 - Journal of Philosophy 73 (14):453-466.
Empathy: Its Ultimate and Proximate Bases.Stephanie D. Preston & Frans B. M. de Waal - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (1):1-20.

View all 25 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Empathy and the Value of Humane Understanding.Olivia Bailey - 2022 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 104 (1):50-65.
The Relational Value of Empathy.Monika Betzler - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (2):136-161.
Empathy.Karsten Stueber - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Empathy and the Limits of Thought Experiments.Erick Ramirez - 2017 - Metaphilosophy 48 (4):504-526.
Empathy and Common Ground.Hannah Read - 2021 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 24 (2):459-473.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Against Empathy.Jesse Prinz - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):214-233.
Feeling for Others: Empathy, Sympathy, and Morality.Heidi L. Maibom - 2009 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (5):483-499.
A Puzzle About Empathy.Adina L. Roskies - 2011 - Emotion Review 3 (3):378-280.
Autism, Empathy and Moral Agency.Jeanette Kennett - 2002 - Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208):340-357.
Empathy, Sympathy, Justice and the Child.Kristja´N. Kristja´Nsson * - 2004 - Journal of Moral Education 33 (3):291-305.
Similarity Versus Familiarity: When Empathy Becomes Selfish.Elias L. Khalil - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (1):41-41.
Cultural Memory, Empathy, and Rape.Lisa Campo-Engelstein - 2009 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 16 (1):25-42.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2013-03-20

Total views
162 ( #73,424 of 2,519,862 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #137,465 of 2,519,862 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes