Intention and empathy

Philosophical Psychology 33 (8):1162-1184 (2020)
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This essay challenges some assumptions of prevalent theories of empathy. The empathizer, according to these theories, must have an emotion or a representation that matches the recipient’s emotion or representation. I argue that these conditions fail to account for important cases, namely surrogate and out-group empathy. In the course of this argument, I isolate some conceptual difficulties in extant models of cognitive empathy. In place of the matching theories,I propose an indexical model that (1) distinguishes virtual from real self-reference and (2) replaces self–other distinctions with an epistemic condition. According to this account, empathy occurs when we index an intention to another person about whom we have the relevant knowledge or understanding.
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Archival date: 2020-11-18
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