The indispensability of empathy : the role of empathy in making moral judgments
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Do we need empathy as moral agents? Some philosophers think not. Some also deny that we benefit from empathy, and some go as far as to argue that empathy impairs our ability to make sound moral judgments. These doubts about empathy call into question its place in moral life. The aim of my dissertation is to remove these doubts by showing that empathy is indispensible to moral agents. Empathy helps us to appreciate others’ thoughts and feelings such that we are in a better position to make, correct, and recognize moral judgments. Empathy, however, is not just a helpful resource; it is not something optional that agents can choose to disregard. Instead, for those who can take advantage of it, empathy is required as a resource that enables more sophisticated participation in the moral community.