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Conclusion: Implications for Feminist Ethics

  • Julinna C. Oxley
Chapter

Abstract

This book has covered considerable territory, surveying the nature of empathy, its epistemic functions and how they are important to moral deliberation, why empathy alone is unsuitable as the sole basis of moral judgment, how contractual ethical theories model empathy, and how empathy can be used in moral education. By way of conclusion, I want to make clear the significance of the arguments that have gone before and discuss directions for further research on related topics that I have not treated in detail. There is a great deal of interesting work being done on topics related to empathy—including narrative approaches to empathy, empathy in animals, and empathy in religious ethics (which might see these topics differently from secular ethics)—that I have been unable to examine here.11 close by demonstrating the practical application of my argument as it applies to feminist ethics in particular.

Keywords

Moral Judgment Moral Dimension Care Ethic Feminist Issue Moral Deliberation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Examples include: Suzanne Keen (2007) Empathy and the Novel, New York: Oxford University Press;.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Marc Bekoff (2008) The Emotional Lives of Animals: A Leading Scientist Explores Animal Joy, Sorrow, and Empathy—and Why They Matter, Novato, CA: New World Library;Google Scholar
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  5. 2.
    Jessica Durando (2010) “Women More Generous, More Likely to Donate, Study Says,” USA Today, October 21. http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/mind-soul/doing-good/2010-10-21-1Acharity21_ST_N.htm. Accessed January 29, 2011.Google Scholar
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    Randy Lennon and Nancy Eisenberg (1987) “Gender and Age Differences in Empathy and Sympathy,” in Empathy and Its Development, Chapter 9.Google Scholar
  7. 6.
    Klein K. and Hodges S. (2001) “Gender Differences, Motivation, and Empathic Accuracy: When it Pays to Understand,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(6): 720–730. (Emphasis mine.)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Claudia Strauss (2004) “Is Empathy Gendered and, If So, Why? An Approach from Feminist Psychological Anthropology,” Ethos, 32(4): 432–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  11. 11.
    For example, Alison Jaggar outlines four criteria of a feminist ethical theory, or a theory that serves women’s interests equally to men’s. These include (a) the assumption that women and men do not share precisely the same situation in life, (b) the theory recommends actions “that will tend to subvert rather than reinforce the present systematic subordination of women,” (c) it provides strategies for dealing with issues that arise in private or domestic life, and (d) it takes “the moral experience of all women seriously, though not, of course, uncritically,” Allison Jaggar, “Feminist Ethics” in L. Becker and C. Becker, eds. (1992) Encyclopedia of Ethics, New York: Garland Press, p. 364. See also Annette Baier (1985) “What Do Women Want in a Moral Theory?” Nous, 19: 53–63 for a similar argument.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Cheshire Calhoun, “Introduction,” in Cheshire Calhoun, ed. (2004) Setting the Moral Compass: Essays by Women Philosophers, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 13.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    See Virginia Held (2006) The Ethics of Care: Personal, Political, Global, Oxford: Oxford University Press;Google Scholar
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    See for example: Martha C. Nussbaum (2001) Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Nancy Sherman (1998) “Empathy and Imagination,” Midwest Studies in Philosophy XXII: 82–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 20.
    Jeannette Kennett (2002) “Autism, Empathy and Moral Agency,” The Philosophical Quarterly, 52(208): 345. She argues that the developmental literature also suggests that empathy gives “insight into other selves which is so epis- temically useful in our daily lives” and contributes to “the development of one’s own sense of self” (p. 356).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Julinna C. Oxley 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julinna C. Oxley
    • 1
  1. 1.Coastal Carolina UniversityUSA

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