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IMAGINATION, EMPATHY, AND MORAL DELIBERATION: THE CASE OF IMAGINATIVE RESISTANCE

Authors


  • Karsten Stueber is Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the College of the Holy Cross. He has published widely in the philosophy of language, philosophy of mind/psychology, and the philosophy of social science. He is the author of Donald Davidsons Theorie Sprachlichen Verstehens (Anton Hain, 1993) and Rediscovering Empathy: Agency, Folk Psychology, and the Human Sciences (MIT Press, 2006; Italian translation, 2010). In addition, he has co-edited three anthologies: Philosophie der Skepsis (with Thomas Grundmann; UTB, 1996), Empathy and Agency (with Hans Herbert Kögler; Westview, 2000), and Debating Dispositions (with Gregor Damschen and Robert Schnepf; De Gruyter, 2009).

abstract

This essay develops a new account of the phenomenon of imaginative resistance. Imaginative resistance is best conceived of as a limited phenomenon. It occurs when we try to engage imaginatively with different moral worlds that are insufficiently articulated so that they do not allow us either to quarantine our imaginative engagement from our normal moral attitudes or to agree with the expressed moral judgment from the perspective of moral deliberation. Imaginative resistance thus reveals the central epistemic importance that empathy plays for our understanding of rational agents in a context where we try to make sense of the moral appropriateness of their reasons for acting. Reflecting on the phenomenon of imaginative resistance allows us to recognize important features of the relationship between imaginative perspective taking and ordinary moral deliberation.

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