An Integrated View of Empathy: Psychology, Philosophy, and Neuroscience

Regular Article

Abstract

In this paper, we will examine and untangle a conflict mainly between a developmental psychologist, Martin Hoffman and a social psychologist, Daniel Batson. According to Hoffman, empathic distress, a vicarious feeling through empathy, is transformed into an altruistic motivation. Batson and others on the other hand, criticize Hoffman, claiming that empathic altruism has no relation with empathic distress. We will point out some problems with Batson’s position by referring to the results of fMRI experiments that suggest empathic distress and empathic altruism share a common basis, and defend Hoffman’s argument. This will also offer new insights into the evolution of empathy.

Keywords

Empathy Sympathy Evolution of morality Moral psychology 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and History of Science, Graduate School of LettersKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Psychology, Graduate School of LettersKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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