_In Perception, Empathy, and Judgment_ Arne Johan Vetlesen focuses on the indispensable role of emotion, especially the faculty of empathy, in morality. He contends that moral conduct is severely threatened once empathy is prevented from taking part in an interplay with cognitive faculties in acts of moral perception and judgment. Drawing on developmental psychology, especially British "object relations" theory, to illuminate the nature and functioning of empathy, Vetlesen shows how moral performance is constituted by a sequence (...) involving perception, judgment, and action, with an interplay between the agent's emotional and cognitive faculties occurring at each stage. In the powerful tradition from Kant to present-day theorists such as Kohlberg, Rawls, and Habermas, reason is privileged over feeling and judgment over perception, in such a way that basic philosophical questions remain unasked. Vetlesen focuses our attention on these questions and challenges the long-standing assertion that emotions are damaging to moral response. In the final chapter he relates his argument to recent feminist critiques that have also castigated moral theorists in the Kantian tradition for their refusal to recognize a role for emotion in morality. While the book's argument is philosophical, its method and scope are interdisciplinary. In addition to critiques of such philosophers as Arendt, MacIntyre, and Habermas, it contains discussions of specific historical, ideological, and sociological factors that may cause "numbing"—selective or broad-ranging, pathological insensitivity—in humans. The Nazis' mass killing of Jews is studied to illuminate these and other relevant empirical aspects of large-scale immoral action. (shrink)
In this timely and wide-ranging study, Karsten Stueber argues that empathy is epistemically central for our folk-psychological understanding of other agents--that it is something we cannot do without in order to gain understanding of other minds. Setting his argument in the context of contemporary philosophy of mind and the interdisciplinary debate about the nature of our mindreading abilities, Stueber counters objections raised by some in the philosophy of social science and argues that it is time to rehabilitate the (...) class='Hi'>empathy thesis.Empathy, regarded at the beginning of the twentieth century as the fundamental method of gaining knowledge of other minds, has suffered a century of philosophical neglect. Stueber addresses the plausible philosophical misgivings about empathy that have been responsible for its failure to gain widespread philosophical acceptance.Crucial in this context is his defense of the assumption, very much contested in contemporary philosophy of mind, that the notion of rational agency is at the core of folk psychology. Stueber then discusses the contemporary debate between simulation theorists--who defend various forms of the empathy thesis--and theory theorists. In distinguishing between basic and reenactive empathy, he provides a new interpretive framework for the investigation into our mindreading capacities. Finally, he considers epistemic objections to empathy raised by the philosophy of social science that have been insufficiently discussed in contemporary debates. Empathy theorists, Stueber writes, should be prepared to admit that, although empathy can be regarded as the central default mode for understanding other agents, there are certain limitations in its ability to make sense of other agents; and there are supplemental theoretical strategies available to overcome these limitations. (shrink)
There is disagreement in the literature about the exact nature of the phenomenon of empathy. There are emotional, cognitive, and conditioning views, applying in varying degrees across species. An adequate description of the ultimate and proximate mechanism can integrate these views. Proximately, the perception of an object's state activates the subject's corresponding representations, which in turn activate somatic and autonomic responses. This mechanism supports basic behaviors that are crucial for the reproductive success of animals living in groups. The Perception-Action (...) Model, together with an understanding of how representations change with experience, can explain the major empirical effects in the literature. It can also predict a variety of empathy disorders. The interaction between the PAM and prefrontal functioning can also explain different levels of empathy across species and age groups. This view can advance our evolutionary understanding of empathy beyond inclusive fitness and reciprocal altruism and can explain different levels of empathy across individuals, species, stages of development, and situations. Key Words: altruism; cognitive empathy ; comparative; emotion; emotional contagion; empathy ; evolution; human; perception-action; perspective taking. (shrink)
Empathy is a topic of continuous debate in the nursing literature. Many argue that empathy is indispensable to effective nursing practice. Yet others argue that nurses should rather rely on sympathy, compassion, or consolation. However, a more troubling disagreement underlies these debates: There’s no consensus on how to define empathy. This lack of consensus is the primary obstacle to a constructive debate over the role and import of empathy in nursing practice. The solution to this problem (...) seems obvious: Nurses need to reach a consensus on the meaning and definition of empathy. But this is easier said than done. Concept analyses, for instance, reveal a profound ambiguity and heterogeneity of the concept of empathy across the nursing literature. Since the term “empathy” is used to refer to a range of perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral phenomena, the presence of a conceptual ambiguity and heterogeneity is hardly surprising. Our proposal is simple. To move forward, we need to return to the basics. We should develop the concept from the ground up. That is, we should begin by identifying and describing the most fundamental form of empathic experience. Once we identify the most fundamental form of empathy, we will be able to distinguish among the more derivative experiences and behaviors that are addressed by the same name and, ideally, determine the place of these phenomena in the field of nursing. The aim of this article is, consequently, to lay the groundwork for a more coherent concept of empathy and thereby for a more fruitful debate over the role of empathy in nursing. In Part 1, we outline the history of the concept of empathy within nursing, explain why nurses are sometimes warry of adapting concepts from other disciplines, and argue that nurses should distinguish between adapting concepts from applied disciplines and from more theoretical disciplines. In Part 2, we show that the distinction between emotional and cognitive empathy—borrowed from theoretical psychology—has been a major factor in nurses’ negative attitudes toward emotional empathy. We argue, however, that both concepts fail to capture the most fundamental form of empathy. In Part 3, we draw on and present some of the seminal studies of empathy that can be found in the work of phenomenological philosophers including Max Scheler, Edmund Husserl, and Edith Stein. In Part 4, we outline how their understanding of empathy may facilitate current debates about empathy’s role in nursing. (shrink)
Empathy has become a common point of debate in moral psychology. Recent developments in psychiatry, neurosciences and social psychology have led to the revival of sentimentalism, and the ‘empathy thesis’ has suggested that affective empathy, in particular, is a necessary criterion of moral agency. The case of psychopaths – individuals incapable of affective empathy and moral agency, yet capable of rationality – has been utilised in support of this case. Critics, however, have been vocal. They have (...) asserted that the case of autism proves the empathy thesis wrong; that psychopathy centres on rational rather than empathic limitations; that empathy is not relevant to many common normative behaviours; and that rationality is required when empathy fails. The present paper analyses these four criticisms. It will be claimed that they each face severe difficulties, and that moral agency ought to be approached via a multi-tier model, with affective empathy as a baseline. (shrink)
Despite its long history of investigating sociality, phenomenology has, to date, said little about online sociality. The phenomenological tradition typically claims that empathy is the fundamental way in which we experience others and their experiences. While empathy is discussed almost exclusively in the context of face-to-face interaction, I claim that we can empathetically perceive others and their experiences in certain online situations. Drawing upon the phenomenological distinction between the physical, objective body and the expressive, lived body, I: (i) (...) highlight that empathy involves perceiving the other’s expressive, lived body, (ii) show that the lived body is not tied to the physical body and that empathy can take place outside of face-to-face interactions, and (iii) argue that the lived body can enter online space and is empathetically available to others there. I explore two ways in which the other’s lived body enters online space and can be empathetically perceived: first, in cases where our face-to-face encounter is technologically-mediated over video link and, second, by showing how the other’s texts, as speech, can form part of the other’s lived body. Investigating empathy online not only furthers our understanding of online encounters but also leads to a refined conception of empathy more generally. (shrink)
Empathy has for a long time, at least since the eighteenth century, been seen as centrally important in relation to our capacity to gain a grasp of the content of other people's minds, and predict and explain what they will think, feel, and do; and in relation to our capacity to respond to others ethically. In addition, empathy is seen as having a central role in aesthetics, in the understanding of our engagement with works of art and with (...) fictional characters. A fuller understanding of empathy is now offered by the interaction of research in science and the humanities. This volume draws together nineteen original chapters by leading researchers across several disciplines, together with an extensive Introduction by the editors. The individual chapters reveal how important it is, in a wide range of fields of enquiry, to bring to bear an understanding of the role of empathy in its various guises. It offers the ideal starting-point for the exploration of this intriguing aspect of human life. (shrink)
Empathy can be characterized as a vicarious emotion that one person experiences when reflecting on the emotion of another. So characterized, empathy is sometimes regarded as a precondition on moral judgment. This seems to have been Hume's view. I review various ways in which empathy might be regarded as a precondition and argue against each of them: empathy is not a component, a necessary cause, a reliable epistemic guide, a foundation for justification, or the motivating force (...) behind our moral judgments. In fact, empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful. Another construct—concern—fares somewhat better, but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality. (shrink)
The suffering of nonhuman animals has become a noted factor in deciding public policy and legislative change. Yet, despite this growing concern, skepticism toward such suffering is still surprisingly common. This paper analyzes the merits of the skeptical approach, both in its moderate and extreme forms. In the first part it is claimed that the type of criterion for verification concerning the mental states of other animals posed by skepticism is overly (and, in the case of extreme skepticism, illogically) demanding. (...) Resting on Wittgenstein and Husserl, it is argued that skepticism relies on a misguided epistemology and, thus, that key questions posed by it face the risk of absurdity. In the second part of the paper it is suggested that, instead of skepticism, empathy together with intersubjectivity be adopted. Edith Stein’s take on empathy, along with contemporary findings, are explored, and the claim is made that it is only via these two methods of understanding that the suffering of nonhuman animals can be perceived. (shrink)
This article makes five main points. Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy, under- stood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. Empathy is the precondi- tion of the science of consciousness. Human empathy.
I propose a way of understanding empathy on which it does not necessarily involve any-thing like thinking oneself into another’s shoes, or any imagining at all. Briefly, the empa-thizer uses an aspect of her own mental state as a sample, expressed by means of a phenomenal concept, to understand the other person. This account does a better job of explaining the connection between empathetic experiences and the objects of empathy than most traditional ones do. And it helps to (...) clarify the relations among different varieties of empathy and empathy-like experiences, including empathy with fictional characters. -/- . (shrink)
In this paper, my aim is to bring together contemporary psychological literature on emotion regulation and the classical sentimentalism of David Hume and Adam Smith to arrive at a plausible account of empathy's role in explaining patterns of moral judgment. Along the way, I criticize related arguments by Michael Slote, Jesse Prinz, and others.
This article criticizes what it calls perspectival thought experiments, which require subjects to mentally simulate a perspective before making judgments from within it. Examples include Judith Thomson's violinist analogy, Philippa Foot's trolley problem, and Bernard Williams's Jim case. The article argues that advances in the philosophical and psychological study of empathy suggest that the simulative capacities required by perspectival thought experiments are all but impossible. These thought experiments require agents to consciously simulate necessarily unconscious features of subjectivity. To complete (...) these experiments subjects must deploy theory-theoretical frameworks to predict what they think they would do. These outputs, however, systematically mislead subjects and are highly prone to error. They are of negligible probative value, and this bodes poorly for their continued use. The article ends with two suggestions. First, many thought experiments are not problematically perspectival. Second, it should be possible to carry out “in-their-shoes” perspectival thought experiments by off-loading simulations onto virtual environments into which philosophers place subjects. (shrink)
Are there limits to what it is morally okay to imagine? More particularly, is imaginatively inhabiting morally suspect perspectives something that is off-limits for truly virtuous people? In this paper, I investigate the surprisingly fraught relation between virtue and a familiar form of imaginative perspective taking I call empathy. I draw out a puzzle about the relation between empathy and virtuousness. First, I present an argument to the effect that empathy with vicious attitudes is not, in fact, (...) something that the fully virtuous person can indulge in. At least one prominent way of thinking about the psychology of the virtuous person excludes the possibility that the virtuous could emotionally apprehend the world in a less than virtuous way, and empathizing with vicious outlooks does seem to run afoul of that restriction. Then, I develop an argument that runs in the contrary direction: virtue in fact requires empathy with vicious outlooks, at least in some situations. There is reason to think that a crucial part of being virtuous is ministering effectively to others’ needs, and there is also reason to think that other people may need to be empathized with, even if their emotional outlooks are at least minorly vicious. Finally, I outline two different solutions to this puzzle. Both solutions hold some promise, but they also bring new challenges in their train. (shrink)
Empathic feelings seem to causally influence our moral judgments at least sometimes. But is empathy necessary for our ability to make moral judgments? And is it a good thing if our judgments are based on empathy? This chapter examines the contemporary debate on these issues.
Drawing on the work of Scheler, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty, Husserl and Sartre, this article presents an overview of some of the diverse approaches to intersubjectivity that can be found in the phenomenological tradition. Starting with a brief description of Scheler's criticism of the argument from analogy, the article continues by showing that the phenomenological analyses of intersubjectivity involve much more than a 'solution' to the 'traditional' problem of other minds. Intersubjectivity doesn't merely concern concrete face-to-face encounters between individuals. It is also (...) something that is at play in simple perception, in tool-use, in emotions, drives and different types of self-awareness. Ultimately, the phenomenologists would argue that a treatment of intersubjectivity requires a simultaneous analysis of the relationship between subjectivity and world. It is not possible simply to insert intersubjectivity somewhere within an already established ontology; rather, the three regions 'self', 'others', and 'world' belong together; they reciprocally illuminate one another, and can only be understood in their interconnection. (shrink)
The article explores and compares the accounts of empathy found in Lipps, Scheler, Stein and Husserl and argues that the three latter phenomenological thinkers offer a model of empathy, which is not only distinctly different from Lipps’, but which also diverge from the currently dominant models.
Our collective enthusiasm for empathy reflects a sense that it is deeply valuable. I show that empathy bears a complex and surprisingly problematic relation to another social epistemic phenomenon that we have reason to value, namely testimonial trust. My discussion focuses on empathy with and trust in people who are members of one or more oppressed groups. Empathy for oppressed people can be a powerful tool for engendering a certain form of testimonial trust, because there is (...) a tight connection between empathy and a approval of another's outlook. I then argue that the qualities of empathy that make it such a powerful tool for bridging differences and building trust also have a problematic upshot: they make it the case that reliance on empathy will sometimes have a distorting effect upon the ways we extend testimonial trust. (shrink)
Empathy remains poorly understood, under-theorized, and subject to conflicting and opportunistic uses. Its systematic role in human experience has not been analyzed and interpreted from top to bottom. In this book, the author attempts to provide such an analysis in the philosophical traditions of hermeneutics, phenomenology, analytic philosophy of language, and psychoanalysis. applying his interpretation of empathy to the philosophical issues of intentionality, the emotions, and the checkered transformations of empathy itself. In doing so the author aims (...) to rescue empathy from the margins of intelligibility and reveal its central role in our understanding of the emotions, the integrity of our relations with others, and human community (“intersubjectivity”). -/- The work draws on both the Anglo-American (“analytic”) tradition of ordinary language philosophy and the continental ones of phenomenology and hermeneutics. This work follows the movement of empathy from the periphery of ethics, aesthetics, and theory of mind to a key place in establishing and maintaining the integrity and emotional equilibrium of dynamic interrelations with other individuals. Beginning with the philosophical infrastructure of the hermeneutics of empathy, this work thoroughly explains the complex architecture of empathy, tracing it downward through the levels of authentic human interrelations, empathy with unexpressed emotions, the empathic penetrability of cognitively impenetrable affect, the first-ever intentional analysis of both the empathizer and the “empathasand” in interrelation, and the hermeneutic infrastructure. The consequences of empathy are exposed in the context of the emotions, cognitive impenetrability, empathy and altruism, and the intentionality of empathy as accessed through language and story telling. Drawing on the multi-method approach of hermeneutics, phenomenology, and story telling, this work demonstrates that empathy forms the foundation for community in ways not clearly appreciated in the on-going debate. In a bootstrap operation that is guided by Heidegger’s call for a “special hermeneutic of empathy,” this work achieves a delicate balancing act of unpacking the rich intellectual traditions from which empathy - the phenomenon itself, not the concept - emerged historically. The result is an exposure of the deep structure of empathy as a fundamentally human capability for creating possibilities of community and human relations. (shrink)
The inconsistent definition of empathy has had a negative impact on both research and practice. The aim of this article is to review and critically appraise a range of definitions of empathy and, through considered analysis, to develop a new conceptualisation. From the examination of 43 discrete definitions, 8 themes relating to the nature of empathy emerged: “distinguishing empathy from other concepts”; “cognitive or affective?”; “congruent or incongruent?”; “subject to other stimuli?”; “self/other distinction or merging?”; “trait (...) or state influences?”; “has a behavioural outcome?”; and “automatic or controlled?” The relevance and validity of each theme is assessed and a new conceptualisation of empathy is offered. The benefits of employing a more consistent and complete definition of empathy are discussed. (shrink)
This paper presents an account of empathy as the form of experience directed at embodied unities of expressive movement. After outlining the key differences between simulation theory and the phenomenological approach to empathy, the paper argues that while the phenomenological approach is closer to respecting a necessary constitutional asymmetry between first-personal and second-personal senses of embodiment, it still presupposes a general concept of embodiment that ends up being problematic. A different account is proposed that is neutral on the (...) explanatory role of the first-person sense of embodiment, which leads to an emphasis on the transformative nature of empathy and a broadening of the scope of possible targets of empathic awareness. (shrink)
Psychopaths have long been of interest to moral philosophers, since a careful examination of their peculiar deficiencies may reveal what features are normally critical to the development of moral agency. What underlies the psychopath's amoralism? A common and plausible answer to this question is that the psychopath lacks empathy. Lack of empathy is also claimed to be a critical impairment in autism, yet it is not at all clear that autistic individuals share the psychopath's amoralism. How is (...) class='Hi'>empathy characterized in the literature, and how crucial is empathy, so described, to moral understanding and agency? I argue that an examination of moral thinking in high-functioning autistic people supports a Kantian rather than a Humean account of moral agency. (shrink)
This paper is devoted to the study of the emotions in Edith Stein’s early work On the Problem of Empathy. After presenting her work embedded in the tradition of the early phenomenology of the emotions, I shall elaborate the four dimensions of the emotional experience according to this authoress, the link between emotions and values and the phenomenon of the living body. I argue that Stein’s account on empathy remains incomplete as long as we ignore the complex phenomenology (...) of emotions underlying her work. (shrink)
It is tempting to assume that being a moral creature requires the capacity to attribute mental states to others, because a creature cannot be moral unless she is capable of comprehending how her actions can have an impact on the well-being of those around her. If this assumption were true, then mere behaviour readers could never qualify as moral, for they are incapable of conceptualising mental states and attributing them to others. In this paper, I argue against such an assumption (...) by discussing the specific case of empathy. I present a characterisation of empathy that would not require an ability to attribute mental states to others, but would nevertheless allow the creature who possessed it to qualify as a moral being. Provided certain conditions are met, a behaviour reader could be motivated to act by this form of empathy, and this means that behaviour readers could be moral. The case for animal morality, I shall argue, is therefore independent of the case for animal mindreading. (shrink)
This paper considers, firstly, to what extent the administration of oxytocin can augment the capacity of empathy in human beings; and secondly, whether or not such practice ought to be allowed. In relation to the latter, the author develops an argument in favour of this intervention by virtue of its consistency with the belief that, if a therapeutic treatment is to be considered acceptable, it is essential that it maximizes the well-being of those affected and that it does not (...) compromise the autonomy of the patient. Having rejected several objections related to the nature of this intervention, the author finally questions its morality on the basis of a concern with its universalizability. (shrink)
I draw upon the conceptual resources of the extended mind thesis to analyze empathy and interpersonal understanding. Against the dominant mentalistic paradigm, I argue that empathy is fundamentally an extended bodily activity and that much of our social understanding happens outside of the head. First, I look at how the two dominant models of interpersonal understanding, theory theory and simulation theory, portray the cognitive link between folk psychology and empathy. Next, I challenge their internalist orthodoxy and offer (...) an alternative "extended" characterization of empathy. In support of this characterization, I analyze some narratives of individuals with Moebius syndrome, a kind of expressive deficit resulting from bilateral facial paralysis. I conclude by discussing how a Zen Buddhist ethics of responsiveness is helpful for articulating the practical significance of an extended, body-based account of empathy. (shrink)
Over the course of her career, Jean Harvey contributed many invaluable insights that help to make sense of both injustice and resistance. Specifically, she developed an account of what she called “civilized oppression,” which is pernicious in part because it can be difficult to perceive. One way that we ought to pursue what she calls a “life of moral endeavor” is by increasing our perceptual awareness of civilized oppression and ourselves as its agents. In this article I argue that one (...) noxious form of civilized oppression is what Miranda Fricker calls “testimonial injustice.” I then follow Harvey in arguing that one of the methods by which we should work to avoid perpetrating testimonial injustice is by empathizing with others. This is true for two reasons. The first is that in order to manifest what Fricker calls the virtue of testimonial justice, we must have a method by which we “correct” our prejudices or implicit biases, and empathy serves as such a corrective. The second is that there are cases where the virtue of testimonial justice wouldn't in fact correct for testimonial injustice in the way that Fricker suggests, but that actively working to empathize would. (shrink)
In what follows, I wish to discuss empathy and sympathy’s relevance to ethics, taking recent findings into account. In particular, I want to consider sympathy’s relation to the idea of a person’s good or well-being. It is obvious and uncontroversial that sympathetic concern for a person involves some concern for her good and some desire to promote it. What I want to suggest is that the concept of a person’s good or well-being is one we have because we are (...) capable of care and sympathetic concern. Well-being is normative for care in the sense that it is intrinsic to the very idea of a person’s good that threats to it are what it makes sense to be concerned about for that person for her sake. (shrink)
A recent version of the view that aesthetic experience is based in empathy as inner imitation explains aesthetic experience as the automatic simulation of actions, emotions, and bodily sensations depicted in an artwork by motor neurons in the brain. Criticizing the simulation theory for committing to an erroneous concept of empathy and failing to distinguish regular from aesthetic experiences of art, I advance an alternative, dynamic approach and claim that aesthetic experience is enacted and skillful, based in the (...) recognition of others’ experiences as distinct from one’s own. In combining insights from mainly psychology, phenomenology, and cognitive science, the dynamic approach aims to explain the emergence of aesthetic experience in terms of the reciprocal interaction between viewer and artwork. I argue that aesthetic experience emerges by participatory sense-making and revolves around movement as a means for creating meaning. While entrainment merely plays a preparatory part in this, aesthetic engagement constitutes the phenomenological side of coupling to an artwork and provides the context for exploration, and eventually for moving, seeing, and feeling with art. I submit that aesthetic experience emerges from bodily and emotional engagement with works of art via the complementary processes of the perception–action and motion–emotion loops. The former involves the embodied visual exploration of an artwork in physical space, and progressively structures and organizes visual experience by way of perceptual feedback from body movements made in response to the artwork. The latter concerns the movement qualities and shapes of implicit and explicit bodily responses to an artwork that cue emotion and thereby modulate over-all affect and attitude. The two processes cause the viewer to bodily and emotionally move with and be moved by individual works of art, and consequently to recognize another psychological orientation than her own, which explains how art can cause feelings of insight or awe and disclose aspects of life that are unfamiliar or novel to the viewer. (shrink)
_A surprising, sweeping, and deeply researched history of empathy—from late-nineteenth-century German aesthetics to mirror neurons_ _Empathy: A History_ tells the fascinating and largely unknown story of the first appearance of “empathy” in 1908 and tracks its shifting meanings over the following century. Despite empathy’s ubiquity today, few realize that it began as a translation of _Einfühlung _or “in-feeling” in German psychological aesthetics that described how spectators projected their own feelings and movements into objects of art and nature. (...) Remarkably, this early conception of empathy transformed into its opposite over the ensuing decades. Social scientists and clinical psychologists refashioned empathy to require the deliberate putting aside of one’s feelings to more accurately understand another’s. By the end of World War II, interpersonal empathy entered the mainstream, appearing in advice columns, popular radio and TV, and later in public forums on civil rights. Even as neuroscientists continue to map the brain correlates of empathy, its many dimensions still elude strict scientific description. This meticulously researched book uncovers empathy’s historical layers, offering a rich portrait of the tension between the reach of one’s own imagination and the realities of others’ experiences. (shrink)
In her very interesting ‘First-personal modes of presentation and the problem of empathy’, L. A. Paul argues that the phenomenon of empathy gives us reason to care about the first person point of view: that as theorists we can only understand, and as humans only evince, empathy by appealing to that point of view. We are skeptics about the importance of the first person point of view, although not about empathy. The goal of this paper is (...) to see if we can account for empathy without the ideology of the first person. We conclude that we can. (shrink)
This paper presents a new, third-personal account of empathy that characterizes empathy as being sensitive to others’ concerns as opposed to remaining stuck in one’s egocentric perspective on the world. The paper also demonstrates why this account is preferable to its two main rivals, namely the simulation theory of empathy, and the direct perception theory of empathy.
This essay develops a new account of the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. Imaginative resistance is best conceived of as a limited phenomenon. It occurs when we try to engage imaginatively with different moral worlds that are insufficiently articulated so that they do not allow us either to quarantine our imaginative engagement from our normal moral attitudes or to agree with the expressed moral judgment from the perspective of moral deliberation. Imaginative resistance thus reveals the central epistemic importance that empathy (...) plays for our understanding of rational agents in a context where we try to make sense of the moral appropriateness of their reasons for acting. Reflecting on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance allows us to recognize important features of the relationship between imaginative perspective taking and ordinary moral deliberation. (shrink)
Current discussions on social cognition, empathy, and interpersonal understanding are largely built on the question of how we recognize and access particular mental states of others. Mental states have been treated as temporally individuated, momentary or temporally narrow unities that can be grasped at one go. Drawing on the phenomenological tradition—on Stein and Husserl in particular—I will problematize this approach, and argue that the other’s experiential states can appear meaningful to us only they are viewed in connection with further, (...) non-simultaneous experiential states of the other. I will focus on the temporal structure of mental states which has received less attention in the available literature. Building a comparison between empathy and music perception, I will argue that approaching the problem of other minds from the point of view of particular mental states is like considering music from the point of view of particular notes. (shrink)
When it comes to understanding the nature of social cognition, we have—according to the standard view—a choice between the simulation theory, the theory-theory or some hybrid between the two. The aim of this paper is to argue that there are, in fact, other options available, and that one such option has been articulated by various thinkers belonging to the phenomenological tradition. More specifically, the paper will contrast Lipps' account of empathy—an account that has recently undergone something of a revival (...) in the hands of contemporary simulationists—with various accounts of empathy found in the phenomenological tradition. I discuss the way Lipps was criticized by Scheler, Stein and Husserl, and outline some of the core features of their, at times divergent, alternatives. I then proceed by considering how their basic take on empathy and social cognition was taken up and modified by Schutz—a thinker whose contribution to the analysis of interpersonal understanding has been unjustly neglected in recent years. (shrink)
Leadership has become a more popular term than management, even though it is understood that both phenomena represent important organizational behaviors. This paper focuses on empathy in leadership, and presents the findings of a study conducted among business students over the course of 3 years. Finding that empathy consistently ranked lowest in the ratings, the researchers set out to discover the driving motives behind this invariable trend, and conducted a second study to obtain opinions about possible underlying factors. (...) The paper presents the findings of both studies, as well as literature reviews on the differences between management and leadership, a historical overview of leadership, a reflection of 21st century leadership, the ongoing debate on the effects of corporate psychopaths on ethical performance, and scholars’ perception on empathy in corporate leadership. The findings indicate the need for a paradigm shift in corporations as well as business schools in regards to leaders’ required skills, and suggest a proactive approach from business faculty to change the current paradigm. (shrink)
Quite a number of the philosophical arguments and objections currently being launched against simulation (ST) based and theory-theory (TT) based approaches to mindreading have a phenomenological heritage in that they draw on ideas found in the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Stein, Gurwitsch, Scheler and Schutz. Within the last couple of years, a number of ST and TT proponents have started to react and respond to what one for the sake of simplicity might call the phenomenological proposal (PP). This (...) paper addresses some of these critical responses, and distinguishes—in the process—substantive disagreements from terminological issues and other issues that are symptomatic of different research agendas. It does so by focusing specifically upon some objections made by Pierre Jacob. These epitomize the kinds of concerns that are being raised about PP at the moment, and thus facilitate a reply on behalf of PP that also applies more generally. (shrink)
In this paper, I consider the role that epistemic familiarity plays in our empathetic perception and our feeling togetherness with others. To do this, I distinguish between what I have dubbed familiarity by acquaintance and familiarity by resemblance and explore their role in our empathetic experiences and various forms of feeling togetherness with others both offline and online. In particular, I resist the idea that we should caveat experiences of online empathy and online togetherness with the requirement of already (...) being familiar by acquaintance with the relevant person in the offline world. In contrast, familiarity by resemblance appears to play a crucial role in shaping our experiences of others, emphasising that what we experience as another’s expressive experience and how we experience that expressive experience is permeated by previous intersubjective encounters whether online or offline. (shrink)
The role of knowledge has long been seen as problematic in the sensorimotor approach to experience. I offer an amended version of the sensorimotor approach, which replaces knowledge with what I call 'sensorimotor empathy'. Sensorimotor empathy is implicit, sometimes unintentional, skilful perceptual and motor coordination with objects and other people. I argue that sensorimotor empathy is the foundation of social coordination, and the key to understanding our conscious experience. I also explain how sensorimotor empathy can be (...) operationalized and studied in the lab, in terms of interpersonal synergies. (shrink)
The term “uncanny valley” goes back to an article of the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori. He put forward the hypothesis that humanlike objects like certain kinds of robots elicit emotional responses similar to real humans proportionate to their degree of human likeness. Yet, if a certain degree of similarity is reached emotional responses become all of a sudden very repulsive. The corresponding recess in the supposed function is called the uncanny valley. The present paper wants to propose a philosophical explanation (...) why we feel empathy with inanimate objects in the first place, and why the uncanny valley occurs when these objects become very humanlike. The core of this explanation—which is informed by the recently developing empirical research on the matter—will be a form of empathy involving a kind of imaginative perception. However, as will be shown, imaginative perception fails in cases of very humanlike objects. (shrink)
Empathy is a term used increasingly both in moral theory and animal ethics. Yet, its precise meaning is often left unexplored. The book aims to tackle this by clarifying the different and even contradictory ways in which “empathy” can be defined.
In this paper, we conceptually explore the role of empathy as a connectedness organising mechanism. We expand ideas underlying positive organisational scholarship and examine leading-edge studies from neuroscience and quantum physics that give support to our claims. The perspective we propose has profound implications regarding how we organise and how we manage. First, we argue that empathy enhances connectedness through the unconscious sharing of neuro-pathways that dissolves the barriers between self and other. This sharing encourages the integration of (...) affective and cognitive consciousness which facilitates the ability to find common ground for solution building. Second, empathy enhances connectedness through altruistic action. In giving to others, feelings of joy and harmony are activated. This in turn allows personal freedom to be enriched and transcendence from the rational ego-self is reduced to develop a more expansive, integrated and enlightened state underlying connectedness. Finally, empathy enhances connectedness which results in sharing the quantum field of coherence where there is little separation between self and other. This means living beyond self-interest in a coherent world based upon interdependent wholeness rather than atomization and separation. Empathy allows us to find that state of coherent connectedness. (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue, contra Prinz, that empathy is a crucial component of our moral lives. In particular, I argue that empathy is sometimes epistemologically necessary for identifying the right action; that empathy is sometimes psychologically necessary for motivating the agent to perform the right action; and that empathy is sometimes necessary for the agent to be most morally praiseworthy for an action. I begin by explaining what I take empathy to be. I (...) then discuss some alleged problems for empathy and explain why some argue that empathy is unnecessary and sometimes even problematic in the moral domain. Next, I criticize a prominent alternative to an empathy-based morality. Finally, I argue that that empathy is sometimes epistemologically and psychologically necessary for doing the right thing and is sometimes necessary for moral worth. I conclude with a discussion of the important role of empathy in our everyday lives. (shrink)