The Direct-Perception Model of Empathy: a Critique [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):519-540 (2011)
This paper assesses the so-called “direct-perception” model of empathy. This model draws much of its inspiration from the Phenomenological tradition: it is offered as an account free from the assumption that most, if not all, of another’s psychological states and experiences are unobservable and that one’s understanding of another’s psychological states and experiences are based on inferential processes. Advocates of this model also reject the simulation-based approach to empathy. I first argue that most of their criticisms miss their target because they are directed against the simulation-based approach to mindreading. Advocates of this model further subscribe to an expressivist conception of human behavior and assume that some of an individual’s psychological states (e.g. her goals and emotions, not her beliefs) can be directly perceived in the individual’s expressive behavior. I argue that advocates of the direct-perception model face the following dilemma: either they embrace behaviorism or else they must recognize that one could not understand another’s goal or emotion from her behavior alone without making contextual assumptions. Finally, advocates of the direct-perception model endorse the narrative competency hypothesis, according to which the ability to ascribe beliefs to another is grounded in the ability to understand narratives. I argue that this hypothesis is hard to reconcile with recent results in developmental psychology showing that preverbal human infants seem able to ascribe false beliefs to others
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References found in this work BETA
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Citations of this work BETA
Joel Krueger (2012). Seeing Mind in Action. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (2):149-173.
Dan Zahavi (2011). Empathy and Direct Social Perception: A Phenomenological Proposal. [REVIEW] Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):541-558.
Shaun Gallagher (2012). In Defense of Phenomenological Approaches to Social Cognition: Interacting with the Critics. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 3 (2):187-212.
Monika Dullstein (2013). Direct Perception and Simulation: Stein's Account of Empathy. Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (2):333-350.
Leon de Bruin, Derek Strijbos & Marc Slors (2011). Early Social Cognition: Alternatives to Implicit Mindreading. [REVIEW] Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):499-517.
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