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 makes five main points. (1) Individual human consciousness is formed in the dynamic interrelation of self and other, and therefore is inherently intersubjective. (2) The concrete encounter of self and other fundamentally involves empathy, under- stood as a unique and irreducible kind of intentionality. (3) Empathy is the precondi- tion (the condition of possibility) of the science of consciousness. (4) Human empathy.
The term “uncanny valley” goes back to an article of the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori (Mori 1970 , 2005 ). 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)
If Sam empathizes with Maria, then it is true of Sam that (1) Sam is aware of Maria's emotion, and (2) Sam ‘feels in tune’ with Maria. On what I call the transparency conception of how they interact when instantiated, I argue that these two conditions are collectively necessary and sufficient for empathy. I first clarify the ‘awareness’ and ‘feeling in tune’ conditions, and go on to examine different candidate models that explain the manner in which these two conditions (...) might come to be concomitantly instantiated in a subject. I dismiss what I call the parallel and oscillation models for not satisfying the transparency condition, i.e. for failing to capture that, if Sam empathizes with Maria, then Sam's own emotional experience towards the object of Maria's emotion has to be mediated by Maria's own emotional experience. I conclude in favour the fusion model as the only model capable of satisfying the transparency condition, and I argue that the suggested proposal illuminates the difference between it and other ways in which we understand the emotions of others. Finally, I expand and clarify the conception of empathy as transparency through responses to obvious objections that the view raises. Key Words: empathy • emotion • philosophy • psychology • simulation. (shrink)
Confucian thinkers seem to have had something like our present concept of empathy long before that notion was self-consciously available in the West. Wang Yang-Mingâs talk of forming one body with others and similar ideas in the writings of Cheng Hao and, much earlier, of Mengzi make it clear that the Confucian traditions not only had the idea of empathy but saw its essential relation to phenomena like compassion, benevolence, and sympathy that are constitutive of the altruistic side (...) of morality. Nowadays, there is increasing interest among Western psychologists and philosophers in the phenomenon of empathy, and it would be lovely and welcome if, having originated these ideas, Chinese philosophers would now take up and help develop what has recently been said and done about empathy, and its relation to altruism, in the West. (shrink)
An inverse akratic act is one who believes X, all things considered, is the correct act, and yet performs ~X, where ~X is the correct act. A famous example of such a person is Huck Finn. He believes that he is wrong in helping Jim, and yet continues to do so. In this paper I investigate Huck’s nature to see why he performs such acts contrary to his beliefs. In doing so, I explore the nature of <span class='Hi'>empathy</span> and (...) show how powerful Huck’s empathic feelings are. Drawing from Martin L. Hoffman, I show the relationship between <span class='Hi'>empathy</span> and a principle of justice. This relationship leads to Huck acting virtuously, as Rosalind Hursthouse maintains. (shrink)
The topic of this study is a notion of empathy that is common in philosophy and in the behavioral sciences. It is here referred to as ‘the notion of empathy as emotional sharing’, and it is characterized in terms of three ideas. If a person, S, has empathy with respect to an emotion of another person, O, then (i) S experiences an emotion that is similar to an emotion that O is currently having, (ii) S’s emotion is (...) caused, in a particular way, by the state of O or by S’s entertaining an idea of the state or situation of O, and (iii) S experiences this emotion in a way that does not entail that S is in the corresponding emotional state. The aim of the study is to clarify this notion of empathy by clarifying these three ideas and by tracing the history of their development in philosophy. -/- The study consists of two parts. Part one contains a short and selective account of the history in Western philosophy of the notion of empathy as emotional sharing. In chapter 2 Spinoza’s theory of imitation of affects and Hume’s theory of sympathy are presented. It is argued that these theories only exemplify the second idea characteristic of the notion of empathy as emotional sharing. Chapter 3 contains presentations of Adam Smith’s theory of sympathy, and Schopenhauer’s theory of compassion. These theories are shown to exemplify the second and the third idea. In chapter 4 there are presentations of Edith Stein’s description of Einfühlung, and Max Scheler’s account of empathy and fellow-feeling. It is shown that these accounts contain explicit specifications of the third idea, and it is argued that they also exemplify the second idea. -/- In part two, the three ideas are further clarified and the notion of empathy as emotional sharing is defined. Chapter 5 contains a discussion of the main contemporary philosophical analyses of empathy. Three different views are distinguished: one that construes empathetic emotions as emotional states, one that construes them as imagined emotions, and one that construes them as off-line emotions. The first two views are criticized and rejected. The third is accepted and further developed in chapter 6, which contains a general analysis of the emotions. A distinction is made between two ways of experiencing an emotion, and it is argued that it is possible to have the affective experience characteristic of a particular kind of emotional state without being in that kind of state. In chapter 7, a definition of ‘empathy’ is proposed. This definition contains specifications of the three ideas characteristic of the notion of empathy as emotional sharing, and it shows both how the empathizer’s emotion resembles the emotion of the empathee, and how this emotion is caused and experienced. (shrink)
Naomi Zack's Inclusive Feminism: A Third Wave Theory of Women's Commonality (2005) begins with an original reading of the paradigm shift that ended U.S. second wave feminism. According to Zack there has been a crisis in academic and professional feminism since the late 1970s. It grew out of the anxieties about essentialism in the wake of white feminist's realization that our understandings of "sisterhood" and "women" excluded women of color and poor women. This realization eventually lead to the movement's foundational (...) collapse in the early 1980s. Regrettably, for Zack, feminists did not rally to reconstruct the foundations of the movement on more solid inclusive grounds. Instead we abandoned the idea that all women share something in common and for the next three decades allowed questions of difference to frame feminist politics. Zack is deeply troubled by this shift. Feminism's flight from essentialism occurred before the movement had a clear account of how universal advocacy for women's interests might be maintained. Her project in Inclusive Feminism is to explain the motivation behind the shift from commonality to intersectionality, to outline its harmful effects, and to reclaim the idea that all women share something in common (2005, 2). To accomplish this Zack careful retools essentialism in ways that simultaneously acknowledge women's differences and dodge what she perceives to be intersectionality's fragmenting effects. -/- I want to address two facets of Zack's project: her critique of intersectionality and her effort to ground a feminist empathy-based solidarity in women's commonalities. Since Zack does not offer her readers an extensive account of what it means to think and work intersectionality, I begin by outlining the basic premises of the foundational literature. Next, I explore her reasons for rejecting this popular approach by replying to her two strongest claims against intersectionality: (1) that intersectionality complicates the category woman by multiplying genders beyond necessity, and (2) that intersectionality has a segregating effect on feminist political movements. I explain how Zack's thinks her relational essentialism [the FMP category] can effectively resolve intersectionality's fragmenting effects by providing a common foundation for an empathy-based feminist solidarity. I argue that inclusive feminism generates an oversimplified account of empathy and thus fails to engage the tensions among feminist movements that intersectionality makes visible. I conclude that her view requires a more robust epistemology of empathy if political solidarity is to be grounded in the FMP category. (shrink)
We contend that empathy is best viewed as a kind of analogical thinking of the sort described in the multiconstraint theory of analogy proposed by Keith Holyoak and Paul Thagard (1995). Our account of empathy reveals the Theory-theory/Simulation theory debate to be based on a false assumption and formulated in terms too simple to capture the nature of mental state ascription. Empathy is always simulation, but may simultaneously include theory-application. By properly specifying the analogical processes of (...) class='Hi'>empathy and their constraints, we are able to show how the amount of theory needed to empathize is determined. (shrink)
This paper describes the historical background to contemporary discussions of empathy and rationality. It looks at the philosophy of mind and its implications for action explanation and the philosophy of history. In the nineteenth century, the concept of empathy became prominent within philosophical aesthetics, from where it was extended to describe the way we grasp other minds. This idea of empathy as a way of understanding others echoed through later accounts of historical understanding as involving re-enactment, noticeably (...) that of R. G. Collingwood. For much of the late twentieth century, philosophers of history generally neglected questions about action explanation. In the philosophy of mind, however, Donald Davidson inspired widespread discussions of the role of folk psychology and rationality in mental causation and the explanation of actions, and some philosophers of history drew on his ideas to reconsider issues related to empathy. Today, philosophers inspired by the discovery of mirror neurons and the theory of mind debate between theory theorists and simulation theorists are again making the concept of empathy central to philosophical analyses of action explanation and to historical understanding. (shrink)
This paper presents two ideas in connection with the notion of empathic access to one's past, where this notion is understood as consisting of memories of one's past from the inside, plus a fundamental sympathy for those remembered states. The first idea is that having empathic access is a necessary condition for one's personal identity and survival. I give reasons to reject this view, one such reason being that it in effect blocks off the possibility of profound personal progress through (...) radical change. The second idea is that empathy with one's past should, as a matter of necessity, be modeled on empathy with another person. I reject this two-state model, arguing for the alternative possibility of a one-state model, according to which one's thoughts and memories of one's past can become infused with one's present thoughts about and attitudes toward one's past. (shrink)
Internalists about reasons generally insist that if a putative reason, R, is to count as a genuine normative reason for a particular agent to do something, then R must make a rational connection to some desire or interest of the agent in question. If internalism is true, but moral reasons purport to apply to agents independently of the particular desires, interests, and commitments they have, then we may be forced to conclude that moral reasons are incoherent. Richard Joyce (2001) develops (...) an argument along these lines. Against this view, I argue that we can make sense of moral reasons as reasons that apply to, and are capable of motivating, agents independently of their prior interests and desires. More specifically, I argue that moral agents, in virtue of their capacities for empathy and shared intentionality, are sensitive to reasons that do not directly link up with their pre-existing ends. In particular, they are sensitive to, and hence can be motivated by, reasons grounded in the desires, projects, commitments, concerns, and interests of others. Moral reasons are a subset of this class of reasons to which moral agents are sensitive. Thus, moral agents can be motivated by moral reasons, even where such reasons fail to link up to their own pre-existing ends. (shrink)
This discussion explores the moral psychology and metaethics of Michael Slote's Moral Sentimentalism. I argue that his account of empathy has an important lacuna, because the sense in which an empathizer feels the same feeling that his target feels requires explanation, and the most promising candidates are unavailable to Slote. I then argue that the (highly original) theory of moral approval and disapproval that Slote develops in his book is implausible, both phenomenologically and for the role it accords to (...)empathy. Finally, I suggest that these problems in moral psychology undermine Slote's metaethical argument for identifying rightness and wrongness with agential warmth and coldness in action. (shrink)
Many philosophical and public discussions of the ethical aspects of violent computer games typically centre on the relation between playing violent videogames and its supposed direct consequences on violent behaviour. But such an approach rests on a controversial empirical claim, is often one-sided in the range of moral theories used, and remains on a general level with its focus on content alone. In response to these problems, I pick up Matt McCormick’s thesis that potential harm from playing computer games is (...) best construed as harm to one’s character, and propose to redirect our attention to the question how violent computer games influence the moral character of players. Inspired by the work of Martha Nussbaum, I sketch a positive account of how computer games can stimulate an empathetic and cosmopolitan moral development. Moreover, rather than making a general argument applicable to a wide spectrum of media, my concern is with specific features of violent computer games that make them especially morally problematic in terms of empathy and cosmopolitanism, features that have to do with the connections between content and medium, and between virtuality and reality. I also discuss some remaining problems. In this way I hope contribute to a less polarised discussion about computer games that does justice to the complexity of their moral dimension, and to offer an account that is helpful to designers, parents, and other stakeholders. (shrink)
Morally contoured empathy is a form of reasonable partiality essential to the healthy care of dependents. It is critical as an epistemic aid in determining proper moral responsiveness; it is also, within certain richly normative roles and relationships, itself a crucial constitutive mode of moral connection. Yet the achievement of empathy is no easy feat. Patterns of incuriosity imperil connection, impeding empathic engagement; inappropriate empathic engagement, on the other hand, can result in self-effacement. Impartial moral principles (...) and constraints offer at best meager protection against these perils, and hence serve poorly in securing morally contoured empathy. More nuanced and practical guidance should be sought in normatively substantive conceptions of our roles and relationships and their defining moral stakes. These, joined with more abstract moral tools, can facilitate rich, narratively textured interpretations of moralitys demands. While the content of our normative conceptions must be continually debated, engaging in this debate is vital to the achievement of proper empathy, and thus to effective, respectful, morally healthy care of dependents. (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. Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives 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. This volume offers the ideal starting-point for the exploration of this intriguing aspect of human life. (shrink)
The discovery of mirror neurons in both primates and humans has led to an enormous amount of research and speculation as to how conscious beings are able to interact so effortlessly among one another. Mirror neurons might provide an embodied basis for passive synthesis and the eventual process of further communalization through empathy, as envisioned by Edmund Husserl. I consider the possibility of a phenomenological and scientific investigation of laughter as a point of connection that might in the future (...) bridge the gap Husserl feared had grown too expansive between the worlds of science and philosophy. Part I will describe some implications of the discovery of mirror neurons. Part II will address Husserl’s concept of embodiment as it relates to neuroscience and empathy. Part III will be a primer to investigating laughter phenomenologically. Part IV will be a continuation of the study of laughter and empathy as possible elements helpful in broadening the scope of what Husserl calls the Life-World. (shrink)
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)
The goals of this research were to (1) explore the direct effects of and interactions between magnitude of consequences and various types of proximity - social, psychological, and physical - on the ethical decision-making process and (2) investigate the influence of empathy on the ethical decision-making process. A carpal tunnel syndrome vignette and questionnaire were administered to a sample of human resource management professionals to test the hypothesized relationships. Significant relationships were found for the main effects between magnitude of (...) consequences and principle-based evaluation, cognitive empathy and principle-based evaluation, and empathy and moral intention. Physical proximity moderated the relationships between magnitude of consequences and utilitarian evaluation as well as magnitude of consequences and moral intention. Cognitive empathy moderated the relationships between magnitude of consequences and principle-based evaluation and physical proximity and utilitarian evaluation. Affective empathy marginally moderated the relationship between physical proximity and principle-based evaluation. Future research directions, management implications, and strengths and weaknesses of the research are discussed. (shrink)
The notion of empathy has been explicated in different ways in the current debate on how to understand others. Whereas defenders of simulation-based approaches claim that empathy involves some kind of isomorphism between the empathizer’s and the target’s mental state, defenders of the phenomenological account vehemently deny this and claim that empathy allows us to directly perceive someone else’s mental states. Although these views are typically presented as being opposed, I argue that at least one version of (...) a simulation-based approach—the account given by de Vignemont and Jacob—is compatible with the direct-perception view. My argument has two parts: My first step is to show that the conflict between these accounts is not—as it seems at first glance—a disagreement on the mechanism by which empathy comes about. Rather, it is due to the fact that their proponents attribute two very different roles to empathy in understanding others. My second step is to introduce Stein’s account of empathy. By not restricting empathy to either one of these two roles, her process model of empathy helps to see how the divergent intuitions that have been brought forward in the current debate could be integrated. (shrink)
In these brief comments, I explore some ambiguities concerning John Deigh's notion of empathy in relation to morality and justice. First, does Deigh conceive of empathy as a morally neutral capacity that can be used for good or bad purposes or, rather, as a capacity that presupposes a moral orientation? I look to his previous work and find evidence supporting both readings. I suggest that the right way to understand empathy is as a moral notion. Empathy (...) is the product of an activity—the activity of empathizing. This activity in turn presupposes a certain moral orientation: one that involves placing a certain kind of value on others. I then ask whether Deigh equates empathy with the sense of justice. I do not believe he does, but still he does not say much about the relation between them. I suggest that while the two are not the same, and while there can be tension between them, they ultimately stem from the same basic moral orientation, one that at least vaguely resembles the morality of cooperation. (shrink)
How the phenomenology of empathy in Husserl and beyond and the second-person approach of cognition are able to mutually enrich and constrain each other? Whereas the intersubjective empathy is limited to face-to-face inter-individual relational experiences or, when socially embedded, results a non-individualized understanding of others in general, the second person approach of cognition opens the way for a plural relational yet individualized understanding of the other. I would like to show in this paper how the integration of both (...) phenomenological and cognitive fields paves the way for the more encompassing description of intersubjective experience as a “relational multiplicity,” which I will ultimately describe through the empirical practice of an emergency psychiatric unit. (shrink)
This paper uses a study of the opinions in a case recently decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., to explain the role of empathy in legal interpretation. I argue for two theses: (1) that empathy is essential to an interpretation of law if that interpretation is to serve the interests of justice and (2) that no interpretation of a law is sound if it ignores whether so interpreting the law serves the (...) interests of justice. (shrink)
Two correlational studies tested whether personality differences in empathy and perspective taking differentially relate to disapproval of unethical negotiation strategies, such as lies and bribes. Across both studies, empathy, but not perspective taking, discouraged attacking opponents' networks, misrepresentation, inappropriate information gathering, and feigning emotions to manipulate opponents. These results suggest that unethical bargaining is more likely to be deterred by empathy than by perspective taking. Study 2 also tested whether individual differences in guilt proneness and shame proneness (...) inhibited the endorsement of unethical bargaining tactics. Guilt proneness predicted disapproval of false promises and misrepresentation. Empathy did not predict disapproval of false promises when guilt proneness was included in the analysis. The comparatively private nature of the sin of false promises suggests that private ethical breaches are more likely to be deterred by anticipated guilt, while ethical breaches with clear interpersonal consequences are more likely to be deterred by empathy. (shrink)
This paper explores the role of empathy and detachment in historical explanation by comparing Collingwood and Hume's philosophies of history to Brecht and Stanislavki's theories of theatre. I argue that Collingwood's notion of re-enactment shares much more with Hume and Brecht than it does with Stanislavski. This enables a just medium between rationalistic and empathetic accounts of historical understanding, as recently put forth by Mark Bevir and Karsten Stueber respectively.
In this paper, I raise three sets of issues inspired by Amy Coplan's paper, “Will the Real Empathy Please Stand Up.” They concern whether we need to distinguish between the three phenomena as Coplan suggests, what method(s) should be used in making those distinctions, and whether they are in fact made correctly.
The Perception-Action Model of empathy (PAM) is both sufficiently broad and sufficiently detailed to be able to describe and accommodate a wide range of phenomena – including the apparent “cold-heartedness” or lack of empathy of psychopaths. We show how the physiological, cognitive, and emotional elements of the PAM map onto known and hypothesized attributes of the psychopathic personality.
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. (shrink)
In professional medical ethics, the physician traditionally is obliged to fulfil specific duties as well as to embody a responsible and trustworthy personality. In the public discussion, different concepts are suggested to describe the desired underlying attitude of physicians. In this article, one of them—empathy—is presented in an interpretation that is meant to depicture (together with the two additional concepts compassion and care) this attitude. Therefore empathy in the clinical context is defined as the adequate understanding of the (...) inner processes of the patient concerning his health-related problems. Adequacy is scrutinized on behalf of the emotional and subjective involvement of he physician, and on the necessary dependence on medical—moral—goals. In the present interpretation, empathy alone is no guarantee of the right moral attitude, but a necessary instrumental skill in order to perceive and treat a patient as an individual person. The concepts of compassion and care that will be discussed in two forthcoming articles are necessary parts to describe the desired moral attitude of the physician more completely. (shrink)
The paper discusses ubiquitous computing and the conception of the self, especially the question how the self should be understood in the environment pervaded by ubiquitous computing, and how ubiquitous computing makes possible direct empathy where each person or self connected through the network has direct access to others’ thoughts and feelings. Starting from a conception of self, which is essentially distributed, composite and constituted through information, the paper argues that when a number of selves are connected to one (...) another in the ubiquitous computing network, a possibility opens up where the selves can directly communicate with one another. This has a potential finally to solve the problem of other minds, and in fact any philosophical conundrum based on the supposed distinction between self and the world. When selves have direct access to others’ thoughts and feelings, they know the content of others’ mental states directly without having to make inferences or employing some other indirect methods. As they are interconnected through the ubiquitous network, and as they are essentially constituted through information, the selves then are spread out across the network. What this implies is that any boundary between a self and another is not as hard and fast as hitherto may have been understood. Toward the end, the paper also discusses how freedom and autonomy are still possible in this ubiquitously networked world. (shrink)
In this paper I am concerned with the notion of empathy and its capacity for overcoming the problem of difference in social life. The concept of empathy has a long history in the Western philosophic tradition but has become discursively submerged in recent times. I am particularly interested in what philosophies of the body may contribute to our understanding of empathy. Psychoanalytic feminism provides some insights. However I identify Merleau-Ponty's conception of body-subject and the intersubjective encounter as (...) offering a potentially more fruitful account of empathy. (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.
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)
There is no doubt that emotions have an important effect on practices of moral reasoning such as clinical ethics consultation. Empathy is not only a basic human emotion but also an important and learnable skill for health care professionals. A basic amount of empathy is essential both in patient care and in clinical ethics consultation. This article debates the “adequate dose” of empathy in ethics consultations in clinical settings and tries to identify possible situations within the process (...) of consultation in which this crucial feeling is at risk. (shrink)
Technology explosion induced by information explosion will eventually change artifacts into intelligent autonomous agents consisting of surrogates and mediators from which humans can receive services without special training. Four potential problems might arise as a result of the paradigm shift: technology abuse, responsibility flaw, moral in crisis, and overdependence on artifacts. Although the first and second might be resolved in principle by introduction of public mediators, the rest seems beyond technical solution. Under the circumstances, a reasonable goal might be to (...) create a mutual dependency between empathy and technology: Using technology to help people cultivate empathy among people, so empathy in the society may allow people to help each other to recover from disasters beyond the scope of the assumption underlying the society of mediators. I highlight an immersive collaborative interaction environment for helping people share first-person view and its application to building empathic agents. (shrink)
I do not consider these objections to be able to dislodge my arguments for the epistemic centrality of empathy for understanding agency, since the empathy view is not in fact committed to an implausible Cartesian view of the mind. But I do ...
Recent developments in cognitive science have prompted philosophers to speculate about the importance of empathy, the ability to directly apprehend and take on the mental and emotional states of others, in understanding and being motivated by moral norms—particularly moral norms concerning other humans. In this paper, I investigate whether some kind of empathy is involved in Thomas Aquinas’s account of the virtue of justice, which he describes as essentially other-directed. I claim that a kind of empathy is (...) involved in Aquinas’s notion of friendship and that this notion of friendship is related to justice as a virtue as its goal. Having the virtue of justice is geared towards establishing true friendship, at least in part. In so doing, it is directed towards establishing a sufficient groundwork for genuine empathy. Instances of genuine empathy, then, are approximations of this goal of the work of justice, even if they occur outside the context of a true friendship. Given this, I describe possible roles Aquinas might afford empathy and empathetic emotions in the context of cultivating the virtue of justice, including roles in motivation and knowledge. (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)
Somatoform disorder patients show a variety of emotional disturbances including impaired emotion recognition and increased empathic distress. In a previous paper, our group showed that several brain regions involved in emotional processing, such as the parahippocampal gyrus and other regions, were less activated in pre-treatment somatoform disorder patients (compared to healthy controls) during an empathy task. Since the parahippocampal gyrus is involved in emotional memory, its decreased activation might reflect the repression of emotional memories (which - according to psychoanalytical (...) concepts - plays an important role in somatoform disorder). Psychodynamic psychotherapy aims at increasing the understanding of emotional conflicts as well as uncovering repressed emotions. We were interested, whether brain activity in the parahippocampal gyrus normalized after (inpatient) multimodal psychodynamic psychotherapy. Using fMRI, subjects were scanned while they shared the emotional states of presented facial stimuli expressing anger, disgust, joy and a neutral expression; distorted stimuli with unrecognizable content served as control condition. 15 somatoform disorder patients were scanned twice, pre and post multimodal psychodynamic psychotherapy; in addition, 15 age-matched healthy control subjects were investigated. Effects of psychotherapy on hemodynamic responses were analyzed implementing two approaches: (i) an a priori region of interest approach and (ii) a voxelwise whole brain analysis. Both analyses revealed increased hemodynamic responses in the left and right parahippocampal gyrus (and other regions) after multimodal psychotherapy in the contrast ‘empathy with anger’-‘control’. Our results are in line with psychoanalytical concepts about somatoform disorder. They suggest the parahippocampal gyrus is crucially involved in the neurobiological mechanisms which underly the emotional deficits of somatoform disorder patients. (shrink)
This article is about young children’s morality and their concern for others’ wellbeing. Questions of what the value of others’ wellbeing can signify, how this value becomes visible to children and how it is expressed in their interaction will be posed. In this analysis, children’s commitment to others’ wellbeing is discussed in terms of two theories, namely the philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s (1962, 1964) theory of intersubjectivity and the psychologist Martin Hoffman’s (1984, 1987, 2000) theory of empathy. The interaction between (...) children and adults in pre-school, drawn from different studies of morality (Johansson, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003), constitutes the empirical basis. In the discussion, it is claimed that children’s care for others’ wellbeing can be understood in a fruitful way as experiences of, approaches to and ways of being involved in the other’s life-world rather than as expressions of empathy. (shrink)
Motivation moderately influences Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) performance in healthy subjects when monetary reward is used to manipulate extrinsic motivation. However, the motivation to use a BCI of severely paralyzed patients, who are potentially in need for BCI, could mainly be internal and thus, an intrinsic motivator may be more powerful. Also healthy subjects who participate in BCI studies could be intrinsically motivated as they may wish to contribute to research and thus extrinsic motivation by monetary reward would be less important (...) than the content of the study. In this respect, motivation could be defined as “motivation-to-help”. The aim of this study was to investigate, whether subjects with high motivation for helping and who are highly empathic would perform better with a BCI controlled by event-related potentials (P300-BCI). We included N=20 healthy young participants naïve to BCI and grouped them according to their motivation for participating in a BCI study in a low and highly motivated group. Motivation was further manipulated with interesting or boring presentations about BCI and the possibility to help patients. Motivation for helping did neither influence BCI performance nor the P300 amplitude. Post-hoc, subjects were re-grouped according to their ability for perspective taking. We found significantly higher P300 amplitudes on parietal electrodes in participants with a low ability for perspective taking and therefore, lower empathy, as compared to participants with higher empathy. The lack of an effect of motivation on BCI performance contradicts previous findings and thus, requires further investigation. We speculate that subjects with higher empathy were less able to focus attention on the BCI task. Good perspective takers with regards to patients in potential need of BCI, may be more emotionally involved and therefore, less able to allocate attention on the BCI task at hand. (shrink)
Contemporary literature includes a wide variety of definitions of empathy. At the same time, the revival of sentimentalism has proposed that empathy serves as a necessary criterion of moral agency. The paper explores four common definitions in order to map out which of them best serves such agency. Historical figures are used as the backdrop against which contemporary literature is analysed. David Hume’s philosophy is linked to contemporary notions of affective and cognitive empathy, Adam Smith’s philosophy to (...) projective empathy, and Max Scheler’s account to embodied empathy. Whereas cognitive and projective empathy suffer from detachment and atomism, thereby providing poor support for the type of other-directedness and openness entailed by moral agency, embodied and affective empathy intrinsically facilitate these factors, and hence are viewed as fruitful candidates. However, the theory of affective empathy struggles to explain why the experience of empathy includes more than pure affective mimicry, whilst embodied empathy fails to take into account forms of empathy that do not include contextual, narrative information. In order to navigate through these difficulties, Edith Stein’s take on non-primordial experience is used as a base upon which a definition of affective empathy, inclusive of an embodied dimension, and founded on a movement between resonation and response, is sketched. It is argued that, of the four candidates, this new definition best facilitates moral agency. (shrink)
The scientific investigation of empathy has become a cornerstone in the field of social cognition. Empathy is critical to the quality of our relationships with others and plays an important role in life satisfaction and well-being. Scientific investigations of empathy have focused on characterizing its cognitive and neural substrates, pointing to a network of brain regions involved in emotional experience and perspective taking (e.g., ventromedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, anterior insula, cingulate). While the hippocampus has rarely been the (...) focus of empathy research, we propose that there are compelling reasons to inquire about the contribution of the hippocampus to social cognition. We propose that the hallmark properties of the hippocampal declarative memory system (e.g., representational flexibility, relational binding, on-line processing capacity) make it well-suited to meet the demands of empathy. The present study is a preliminary investigation of the role of the hippocampal declarative memory system in empathy. Participants were three patients (1 female) with focal, bilateral hippocampal (HC) damage and severe declarative memory impairments and three healthy demographically matched comparison participants. Empathy was measured as a trait through a battery of gold standard questionnaires and through on-line ratings and prosocial behavior in response to a series of empathy inductions. Patients with hippocampal amnesia reported lower cognitive and emotional trait empathy than healthy comparison participants. In response to the empathy inductions, unlike healthy comparison participants, hippocampal patients reported no increase in empathy ratings or prosocial behavior from the control condition. Taken together, these results provide preliminary evidence for a role of hippocampal declarative memory in empathy. (shrink)
In phenomenology, theories of empathy are intimately connected with the question of how it is possible to have insight into the mind of the other person. In this article, the author wants to show why it is self-evident for us that the other person is having experiences. In order to do so, it is not enough to discuss the phenomenon of empathy with a starting point in the already constituted adult person; instead the article presents a genetic approach (...) to human development. The author thus contrasts Edith Stein’s discussion of Einfühlung (empathy), which takes its starting point in the experience of the grown-up, with Max Scheler’s discussion of Einsfühlung (feeling of oneness), where the relation between mother and infant is taken as one example. Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s discussion of the world of the infant is read as one way of developing Scheler’s theory of intersubjectivity and of Einsfühlung. This genetic approach is developed further into a phenomenological analysis of the experience of the fetus and of birth. The author argues that the analysis of the fetus highlights the distinction between knowing that another person is having experiences, and knowing the specific content of the other person’s experiences. The fetus does not experience different persons, but has a pre-subjective experience of life that includes what is later experienced as belonging to “another.” Later in life, the experience of empathy, as an experience of a specific content, can be developed from this experience. In this way empathy and Einsfühlung can be understood as complementary rather than as competing phenomena. (shrink)
The arguments advanced in this paper are the following. Firstly, that just as Trevarthen’s three subjective/intersubjective levels, primary, secondary, and tertiary, mapped out different modes of access, so too response is similarly structured, from direct primordial responsiveness, to that informed by shared pragmatic concerns and narrative contexts, to that which demands the distantiation afforded by representation. Secondly, I propose that empathy is an essential mode of intentionality, integral to the primary level of subjectivity/intersubjectivity, which is crucial to our survival (...) as individuals and as a species. Further to this last point, I argue that empathy is not derived on the basis of intersubjectivity, nor does it merely disclose intersubjectivity, rather it is constitutive of intersubjectivity at the primary level. Empathy is a direct, irreducible intentionality separable in thought from the other primary intentional modes of perception, rationality, memory and imagination, but co-arising with these. In regard to the inter-personal level, the concrete relations with others, primary empathy is both the ground for the possibility of the secondary manifestations—pity, sympathy, perspective taking, etc., and motivates them. Thirdly, it is the movement in the core of subjectivity initially generated by shifting attention between the ‘I’ and ‘we’ perspectives and later ‘solidified’ through affect to become shifting identification, which opens up the intersubjective domain. So we can affirm that we are not only born into sociality but our sociality goes to the roots of our being as Husserl, Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty have claimed. (shrink)
While it is well established that individuals with psychopathy have a marked deficit in affective arousal, emotional empathy, and caring for the well-being of others, the extent to which perspective taking can elicit an emotional response has not yet been studied despite its potential application in rehabilitation. In healthy individuals, affective perspective taking has proven to be an effective means to elicit empathy and concern for others. To examine neural responses in individuals who vary in psychopathy during affective (...) perspective taking, 121 incarcerated males, classified as high (n = 37; Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, PCL-R ≥ 30), intermediate (n = 44; PCL-R between 21-29), and low (n = 40; PCL-R ≤ 20) psychopaths, were scanned while viewing stimuli depicting bodily injuries and adopting an imagine-self and an imagine-other perspective. During the imagine-self perspective, participants with high psychopathy showed a typical response within the network involved in empathy for pain, including the anterior insula, anterior midcingulate cortex, supplementary motor area, inferior frontal gyrus, somatosensory cortex, and right amygdala. Conversely, during the imagine-other perspective, psychopaths exhibited an atypical pattern of brain activation and effective connectivity seeded in the anterior insula and amygdala with the orbitofrontal cortex and ventromedial prefrontal cortex. The response in the amygdala and insula was inversely correlated with PCL-R factor 1 (interpersonal/affective) during the imagine-other perspective. In high psychopaths, scores on PCL-R Factor 1 predicted the neural response in ventral striatum when imagining others in pain. These patterns of brain activation and effective connectivity associated with differential perspective-taking provide a better understanding of empathy dysfunction in psychopathy, and have the potential to inform intervention programs for this complex clinical problem. (shrink)
This special issue targets two topics in social cognition that appear to increasingly structure the nature of interdisciplinary discourse but are themselves not very well understood. These are the notions of empathy and embodiment. Both have a history rooted in phenomenological philosophy and both have found extensive application in contemporary interdisciplinary theories of social cognition, at times to establish claims that are arguably contrary to the ones made by the phenomenologists credited with giving us these notions. But this special (...) issue is not about defending any philosophical tradition or theoretical stance against all others. It is about understanding some central aspects of the nature of our experience of other people. (shrink)
In recent years, there has been a great deal of controversy in the philosophy of mind, developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience both about how to conceptualize empathy and about the connections between empathy and interpersonal understanding. Ideally, we would first establish a consensus about how to conceptualize empathy, and then analyze the potential contribution of empathy to interpersonal understanding. However, it is not at all clear that such a consensus will soon be forthcoming, given that different (...) people have fundamentally conflicting intuitions about the concept of empathy. Thus, instead of trying to resolve this controversy, I will try to show that a fair amount of consensus is within reach about how empathy can be a source of interpersonal understanding even in the absence of a consensus about how to conceptualize empathy. As we shall see, the main controversy concerns a few phenomena that some researchers view as necessary conditions of empathy, but which others view either as merely characteristic features or as consequences of empathy. My strategy will be to try to show how empathy can generate interpersonal understanding by virtue of these phenomena—regardless of whether one chooses to conceptualize them as necessary conditions of empathy. (shrink)
Although empathy is arguably an important factor to consider in moral education, the concept itself has consistently stood on tenuous ground. In this essay, I claim that our adherence to ontological dualism and discrete subjectivity have problematized our comprehension of empathy. I propose that our understanding is limited by our understanding of selfhood. If the self were defined as intersubjective, along the lines of Merleau-Ponty, then empathy’s ambiguities would dissipate. After reconceptualizing empathy in light of intersubjectivity, (...) I call for pedagogical relations that are aligned with developmental research, which provides further support for adhering to an alternative conception of the phenomenon. (shrink)