Empathy and Testimonial Trust

Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 84:139-160 (2018)
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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.



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Olivia Bailey
University of California, Berkeley

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

White Ignorance.Charles W. Mills - 2007 - In Shannon Sullivan & Nancy Tuana (eds.), Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance. Albany, NY: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 11-38.
Getting told and being believed.Richard Moran - 2005 - Philosophers' Imprint 5:1-29.
Against Empathy.Jesse Prinz - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):214-233.

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