Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 April 2022
Though the term “empathy” is relatively recent, there has been a long history of valuing the ability to share a target’s feelings. For example, in the Analects, Kǒngzĭ (Confucius) says, “My way [dào] is one thing.” One of his disciples explains, “The way [dào] of Heaven is loyalty and empathy [shù, 恕].” However, several influential writers have recently argued against empathy. The seventh chapter takes up and seeks to refute the main arguments of such anti-empathy writers as Paul Bloom and Jesse Prinz, along with related arguments by Breithaupt and others. For the most part, my contention is that the arguments at issue actually suggest the need for more empathy, not less. Many of the arguments show the problems with spontaneous empathy. But the whole point of an ethical advocacy of empathy is that we should not rest content with spontaneous empathy but should undertake the effort to extend empathy (e.g., to members of out-groups).