The Value of Empathy explores various approaches to understanding empathy and investigates its moral and practical role.
The central role of empathy in understanding others, and the need for it in our social and inter-personal encounters, is widely acknowledged by philosophers, social scientists and psychologists alike. Discussions of empathy abound, not only in more specialised academic publications, but also in traditional and social media. Yet neither a clear understanding, nor a uniform definition of this relatively new term is available. Indeed, one difficulty in discussing empathy, in philosophy and beyond, is the profusion of definitions; the difficulty is compounded by a lack of clarity in the distinction between empathy and cognate concepts such as sympathy and compassion.
This book has two aims: Chapters 1–5 seek to address the dual concerns of the lack of clarity and profusion of interpretations by suggesting new ways of approaching the topic. The second aim of the book is to connect the more abstract discussions of empathy with its normative functions. Chapters 6–8 engage with the theoretical concerns relevant to the ethics of empathy and raise interesting points about its significance in ethical thought and action. The final four chapters focus on the practical normative significance of empathy by examining the connections between empathy, vulnerability and care in circumstances of ill health.
The chapters in this book were originally published in the International Journal of Philosophical Studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The Value of Empathy
Maria Baghramian, Meliné Papazian and Rowland Stout
1. The Relational Value of Empathy
2. Relational Empathy
3. Language, Behaviour, and Empathy. G.H. Mead’s and W.V.O. Quine’s Naturalized Theories of Meaning
4. No Empathy for Empathy: An Existential Reading of Husserl’s Forgotten Question
5. Finding Empathy: How Neuroscientific Measures, Evidence and Conceptualizations Interact
Riana J. Betzler
6. The Contribution of Empathy to Ethics
7. The Empathetic Soldier
8. Sentimentalist Practical Reason and Self-Sacrifice
9. Pathophobia, Vices, and Illness
Ian James Kidd
10. Beyond Empathy: Vulnerability, Relationality and Dementia
11. Empathy, Respect, and Vulnerability
12. Empathy, Vulnerability and Anxiety
Maria Baghramian is Full Professor of American Philosophy in the School of Philosophy at University College Dublin (UCD) and the Co-founder and Co-director of the Cognitive Science Programme at UCD. She is also a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. Currently she coordinates the Horizon 2020 project Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action (PEriTiA).
Meliné Papazian is completing a PhD in Cognitive Science on Empathy at University College Dublin. She has given conference papers and conducted workshops in France, Italy, Netherlands, Armenia and Ireland. She was also one of the editors of Perspectives, International Postgraduate Journal of Philosophy. In a previous life, she counselled victims of domestic violence in Los Angeles.
Rowland Stout is Professor of Philosophy at University College Dublin, a Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Editor of the International Journal of Philosophical Studies. He is Director of the UCD Centre for Ethics in Public Life and Team Leader for the Work Package on the Ethics of Trust within the EU Horizon 2020 project PEriTiA (Policy, Expertise and Trust in Action).