Feeling for Others: Empathy, Sympathy, and Morality


Authors
Heidi L. Maibom
University of Cincinnati
Abstract
An increasingly popular suggestion is that empathy and/or sympathy plays a foundational role in understanding harm norms and being motivated by them. In this paper, I argue these emotions play a rather more moderate role in harms norms than we are often led to believe. Evidence from people with frontal lobe damage suggests that neither empathy, nor sympathy is necessary for the understanding of such norms. Furthermore, people's understanding of why it is wrong to harm varies and is by no means limited to considerations of welfare arising from the abilities to sympathize and/or empathize. And the sorts of considerations of welfare that are central to sympathy and, to some extent empathy, are often already moralized. As such, these considerations cannot form the non-moral foundation of harm norms. Finally, empathy and sympathy are not the only emotions that motivate harm norms. Indeed, much of the evidence that has been adduced in favor of the motivational force of empathy and sympathy are studies on helping, which is quite a different behavior than aggression inhibition. Understanding and being motivated by harm norms are complex abilities. To understand them better, we need to move beyond the current fixation on empathy and sympathy.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1080/00201740903302626
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,148
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse Prinz - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Dover Publications.
The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse Prinz - 2009 - Analysis 69 (4):701-704.

View all 31 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Qual a motivação para se defender uma teoria causal da memória?César Schirmer Dos Santos - 2018 - In Juliano Santos do Carmo & Rogério F. Saucedo Corrêa (eds.), Linguagem e cognição. Pelotas: NEPFil. pp. 63-89.
Empathy and Morality in Behaviour Readers.Susana Monsó - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (5):671-690.
The Trouble With Moral Enhancement.Inmaculada de Melo-Martín - 2018 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 83:19-33.

View all 11 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Empathy and Sympathy as Tactile Encounter.Edith Wyschogrod - 1981 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 6 (1):25-44.
Cultural Memory, Empathy, and Rape.Lisa Campo-Engelstein - 2009 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 16 (1):25-42.
Sympathy, Empathy, and the Stream of Consciousness.Thomas Natsoulas - 1988 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 18 (June):169-195.
The Secret Chain: A Limited Defense of Sympathy.Julia Driver - 2011 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):234-238.
Empathy, Sympathy, Care.Stephen Darwall - 1998 - Philosophical Studies 89 (2-3):261–282.
Empathy, Sympathy, Justice and the Child.Kristja´N. Kristja´Nsson * - 2004 - Journal of Moral Education 33 (3):291-305.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-07-27

Total views
147 ( #55,561 of 2,285,426 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #325,441 of 2,285,426 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature