Shared Belief and the Limits of EmpathySimon Keller (Victoria University of Wellington)
Research Lounge, 4th Floor Arts West, University of Melbourne
University of Melbourne
To empathize with another person is to share in her feelings or emotions. Emotions involve ways of seeing the world; fear of cats, for example, involves seeing cats as dangerous. To empathize with another person is, in part, to see the world as she sees it. Empathy, as a result, often places rational pressure upon beliefs; if I empathize with your fear of cats, then I come under rational pressure to believe that cats are dangerous. The connection between empathy and belief has far-reaching consequences for several debates about the moral and epistemic roles of empathy. Empathy carries distinctive epistemic dangers along with its epistemic benefits; there can be good reasons to avoid empathy; there are epistemic barriers to our ability truly to empathize with others, even those very close to us; the ideal of universal empathy is incoherent; and empathy cannot plausibly be taken to be the basis of morality.
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