Empathy and Morality

Empathy’s centrality to morality is heavily debated. Many religious and philosophical traditions have favored empathy, sympathy, or compassion as key to moral thought, conduct, or motivation. David Hume famously thought that the pains and pleasures of others move people only because they are capable of feeling what they feel by communication, as it were. In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in the idea that empathy or sympathy is central to moral judgment and motivation, but the view is increasingly attacked. Empathy is so morally limited, some argue, that researchers should focus their attention elsewhere. Yet, the importance of human capacities to feel with and for others is hard to deny. This collection is dedicated to the question of the importance of these capacities to morality. It brings together original papers in philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and neuroscience to give a comprehensive overview of the issue, and includes an extensive survey of empathy and empathy-related emotions. It is distinctive in focusing on the moral import of empathy and sympathy. Though there are many scholarly volumes on empathy few, if any, are dedicated to this question.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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