1st Edition

Philosophical Perspectives on Empathy Theoretical Approaches and Emerging Challenges

Edited By Derek Matravers, Anik Waldow Copyright 2019
    200 Pages
    by Routledge

    198 Pages
    by Routledge

    Empathy—our capacity to cognitively or affectively connect with other people’s thoughts and feelings—is a concept whose definition and meaning varies widely within philosophy and other disciplines. Philosophical Perspectives on Empathy advances research on the nature and function of empathy by exploring and challenging different theoretical approaches to this phenomenon.

    The first section of the book explores empathy as a historiographical method, presenting a number of rich and interesting arguments that have influenced the debate from the Nineteenth Century to the present day. The next group of essays broadly accepts the centrality of perspective-taking in empathy. Here the authors attempt to refine and improve this particular conception of empathy by clarifying the intentionality of the perspective taker’s emotion, the perspective taker’s meta-cognitive capacities, and the nature of central imagining itself. Finally, the concluding section argues for the re-evaluation, or even rejection, of empathy. These essays advance alternative theories that are relevant to current debates, such as narrative engagement and competence, attunement or the sharing of mental states, and the "second-person" model of empathy.

    This book features a wide range of perspectives on empathy written by experts across several different areas of philosophy. It will be of interest to researchers and upper-level students working on the philosophy of emotions across ethics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, and the history of philosophy.

    1. Introduction

    Derek Matravers and Anik Waldow

    Part I: Empathy as a Method

    2. Empathy: Language, Affect and Cognition in the Discovery of the Past

    Anik Waldow

    3. Emotional Engagement in Scientific Biographies

    Nick Jardine

    Part II: Empathy and Perceptive Taking

    4. Empathy and Meta-Reflective Capacities

    Elisa Galgut

    5. The Object of an Empathetic Emotion

    Derek Matravers

    6. What Can We Learn From Taking Another’s Perspective?

    Heidi Maibom

    7. Sympathy and Projection, and Why We Should Be Wary of Empathy

    Louisa Braddock

    Part III: Challenges to Empathy

    8. Exploring Enactive Empathy: Actively Responding to and Understanding Others

    Daniel Hutto and Alan Jurgens

    9. Understanding Individual Agency: How Empathy and Narrative Competence Cooperate

    Karsten Stueber

    10. Empathy without Sharing: Empathetic Responsiveness in Psychanalysis and Politics

    Kate Abramson and Adam Leite

    11. An Imaginative-Associative Account of Affective Empathy

    Talia Morag


    Derek Matravers is Professor of Philosophy at The Open University. His recent work includes Introducing Philosophy of Art: Eight Case Studies (Routledge, 2013); Fiction and Narrative (OUP, 2014); and Empathy (2017). He directs, along with Helen Frowe, the AHRC-funded project, Heritage in War.

    Anik Waldow is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. She has published articles on sympathy, the role of affect in the formation of the self and associationist theories of thought and language. She is the author of Hume and the Problem of Other Minds (2009).