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Empathy and Morality$
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Heidi L. Maibom

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969470.001.0001

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Empathy-Induced Altruism and Morality

Empathy-Induced Altruism and Morality

No Necessary Connection

(p.41) 2 Empathy-Induced Altruism and Morality
Empathy and Morality

C. Daniel Batson

Oxford University Press

The empathy-altruism hypothesis states that empathic concern produces altruistic motivation. In this hypothesis, empathic concernrefers to other-oriented emotion elicited by and congruent with the perceived welfare of a person in need; it includes feelings of sympathy, compassion, tenderness, and the like. Altruistic motivationrefers to a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing the welfare of the person with the empathy-inducing need. Over 35 experiments designed to test the empathy-altruism hypothesis provide remarkably consistent support. One—possibly surprising—corollary of this hypothesis is that empathy-induced altruism is not necessarily a source of moral behavior. Like egoism, it can promote violation of one’s moral standards. Experimental evidence supports this corollary. The evidence suggests that altruism and moral motivation are distinct goal-directed motives, each with strengths and weaknesses as a source of moral behavior. Wise orchestration is needed to harmonize their strengths.

Keywords:   empathy-altruism hypothesis, empathic concern, altruistic motivation, moral behavior

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