Against Empathy

Southern Journal of Philosophy 49 (s1):214-233 (2011)
Abstract
Empathy can be characterized as a vicarious emotion that one person experiences when reflecting on the emotion of another. So characterized, empathy is sometimes regarded as a precondition on moral judgment. This seems to have been Hume's view. I review various ways in which empathy might be regarded as a precondition and argue against each of them: empathy is not a component, a necessary cause, a reliable epistemic guide, a foundation for justification, or the motivating force behind our moral judgments. In fact, empathy is prone to biases that render it potentially harmful. Another construct—concern—fares somewhat better, but it is also of limited use. I argue that, instead of empathy, moral judgments involve emotions such as anger, disgust, guilt, and admiration. These, not empathy, provide the sentimental foundation for morality.
Keywords emapthy
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DOI 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2011.00069.x
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References found in this work BETA
The Emotional Construction of Morals.Jesse J. Prinz - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume - 1739/2000 - Oxford University Press.
Treatise on Human Nature.David Hume - 1739 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA
Empathy and Morality.Jessica Isserow - 2015 - Biology and Philosophy 30 (4):597-608.
Empathy and Its Role in Morality.Meghan Masto - 2015 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (1):74-96.
Which Causes of Moral Beliefs Matter?Elizabeth O’Neill - 2015 - Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1070-1080.
Rejecting Empathy for Animal Ethics.T. J. Kasperbauer - 2015 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 18 (4):817-833.

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