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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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Are Empathy and Morality Linked?

Are Empathy and Morality Linked?

Insights from Moral Psychology, Social and Decision Neuroscience, and Philosophy

(p.155) 8 Are Empathy and Morality Linked?
Empathy and Morality

Giuseppe Ugazio

Jasminka Majdandžić

Claus Lamm

Oxford University Press

Empathy and morality have an important yet very complex relation. This complexity is most likely due to the multifaceted nature of empathy and the uncertainty of knowledge about the nature of morality. This chapter first considers the philosophical debate on the nature of morality. Second, it presents empirical data from social neuroscience and psychology to differentiate empathy from related, but distinct social emotions (such as sympathy or compassion). Based on these considerations, it provides a framework in which the relation of morality and empathy can be described. It then reviews empirical evidence making the case that empathy is but one constitutive element of morality, and can even trigger amoral behavior under certain circumstances. Finally, the chapter discusses how empathy—by enabling people to understand how their behavior affects others— can play a fundamental role in promoting morality’s goal of maximizing everyone’s well-being.

Keywords:   empathy, morality, emotions, motivation

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