Tamar Schapiro is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Stanford University. Her articles have appeared in Ethics, Noûs, Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. She is currently writing on the nature of inclination and its relation to the will.
EMPATHY AS A MORAL CONCEPT: COMMENTS ON JOHN DEIGH'S “EMPATHY, JUSTICE, AND JURISPRUDENCE”
Article first published online: 1 SEP 2011
© 2011 The University of Memphis
The Southern Journal of Philosophy
Special Issue: Spindel Supplement: Empathy and Ethics
Volume 49, Issue Supplement s1, pages 91–98, September 2011
How to Cite
SCHAPIRO, T. (2011), EMPATHY AS A MORAL CONCEPT: COMMENTS ON JOHN DEIGH'S “EMPATHY, JUSTICE, AND JURISPRUDENCE”. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 49: 91–98. doi: 10.1111/j.2041-6962.2011.00059.x
- Issue published online: 1 SEP 2011
- Article first published online: 1 SEP 2011
In these brief comments, I explore some ambiguities concerning John Deigh's notion of empathy in relation to morality and justice. First, does Deigh conceive of empathy as a morally neutral capacity that can be used for good or bad purposes or, rather, as a capacity that presupposes a moral orientation? I look to his previous work and find evidence supporting both readings. I suggest that the right way to understand empathy is as a moral notion. Empathy is the product of an activity—the activity of empathizing. This activity in turn presupposes a certain moral orientation: one that involves placing a certain kind of value on others. I then ask whether Deigh equates empathy with the sense of justice. I do not believe he does, but still he does not say much about the relation between them. I suggest that while the two are not the same, and while there can be tension between them, they ultimately stem from the same basic moral orientation, one that at least vaguely resembles the morality of cooperation.