Why Does Empathy Matter for Morality?

Análisis Filosófico 39 (1):5-26 (2019)
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Abstract

In this paper we discuss Prinz’s Kantian arguments in “Is Empathy Necessary for Morality?”. They purport to show that empathy is not necessary for morality because it is not part of the capacities required for moral competence and it can bias moral judgment. First, we show that even conceding Prinz his notions of empathy and moral competence, empathy still plays a role in moral competence. Second, we argue that moral competence is not limited to moral judgment. Third, we reject Prinz’s notion of empathy because it is too restrictive, in requiring emotional matching. We conclude that once morality and empathy are properly understood, empathy’s role in morality is vindicated. Morality is not reduced to a form of rational judgment, but it necessarily presupposes pro-social preferences and motivation and sensitivity to inter-subjective demands.

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