Empathy as a route to knowledge

Matravers, Derek (2011). Empathy as a route to knowledge. In: Coplan, Amy and Goldie, Peter eds. Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, pp. 19–30.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199539956.003.0003

URL: http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199539956.d...

Abstract

This paper is divided into four parts. The first describes the ‘narrow’ sense of empathy: a method, consciously employed, of discovering what another person is feeling. The second expresses some scepticism as to whether empathy is reliable. It considers whether we are able to obtain the right beliefs to run ‘off‐line’; whether we can reliable generate the right affective states; whether there will be causally relevant properties that apply to the agent in their situation that are not replicable; and whether, even if empathy can enable us to know, it can enable us to know that we know. The third part considers whether empathy can teach us about affective states that we have not previously experienced. The fourth part discusses the role empathy has in explaining the cognitive power of literature.

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