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The Epistemic and Moral Value of Empathy

Sofronieva, Diana (2018) The Epistemic and Moral Value of Empathy. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

In this thesis I present and defend an account of empathy and then use this account to evaluate the epistemic and moral worth of empathy. I understand empathy as the activity of recreating in one’s imagination another’s experience, a recreation which does not necessarily imply an isomorphism between the states of empathiser and target. I understand empathy as a tool which one can become skilled at using. I then go on to argue that empathy so construed has epistemic value. I argue that recreating in one’s imagination certain aspects of another’s experience allows one to learn about other, unknown, aspects of the other’s experience. Then I argue that empathy also has epistemic value for learning about evaluative features of objects; it is like testimony without the middle man. I am also concerned with the moral value of empathy. I argue that empathy is a morally neutral tool that can be used to moral advantage. I present and assess the existent criticisms of empathy’s moral worth, as well as put forward a criticism of my own. Apart from discussing criticisms, I also make a positive case by arguing that empathy has moral value in three ways: it allows us to make better informed decisions, it increases our motivation to bring about the good to others, and it brings about a valuable kind of togetherness.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Empathy, Experiential Imagination
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.778613
Depositing User: Dr Diana Sofronieva
Date Deposited: 29 May 2019 11:17
Last Modified: 18 Feb 2020 12:50
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/23885

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