Rowman and Littlefield International
Varieties of Empathy

Varieties of Empathy

Moral Psychology and Animal Ethics

By Elisa Aaltola

Publication Date: Feb 2018

Pages 254

Hardback 9781786606105
£70.00 €98.00 $105.00
Ebook - PDF 9781786606112
£23.99 €33.99 $32.99
Paperback 9781786606129
£23.95 €33.95 $34.95
Empathy is a term used increasingly both in moral theory and animal ethics, with the suggestion that empathy enhances our moral ability and agency. Yet, its precise meaning is often left unexplored, together with the various obstacles and challenges met by an empathy-based ethic, such as those concerning the ways in which empathy is prone to bias and may also facilitate manipulation of others. These oversights render the contemporary discussion on empathy and animal ethics vulnerable to both conceptual confusion and moral simplicity. The book aims to tackle these problems by clarifying the different and even contradictory ways in which “empathy” can be defined, and by exploring the at times surprising implications the various definitions have from the viewpoint of moral agency. Its main question is: What types of empathy hinder moral ability, and what types enable us to become more morally capable in our dealings with the nonhuman world? During the contemporary era, when valuable forms of empathy are in decline, and the more hazardous, self-regarding and biased varieties of utilising empathy in the increase, this question is perhaps more important than ever.
  1. Projective and simulative empathy
  2. Cognitive empathy
  3. Affective empathy
  4. Embodied empathy
  5. Reflective empathy
  6. The limitations of empathy
This is a terrific resource! Aaltola provides a comprehensive taxonomy of empathy that is important for animal ethics and beyond.
Lori Gruen, William Griffin Professor of Philosophy at Wesleyan University and author of "Entangled Empathy: An Alternative Ethic for Our Relationships with Other Animals"
One of the key limitations of animal ethics has been the way that the available theories separate justifications for overcoming anthropocentrism from our motivations for doing so. Rights have been pivotal, and feelings marginal. Our care, emotional responsiveness, and empathy, have been written out of the picture. Elisa Aaltola’s book serves as an important corrective. It is a major contribution to animal ethics.
Tony Milligan, Teaching Fellow in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion at King's College London
Bartolini (European Univ. Institute) tackles the thorny question “what is politics?” He defines politics as “a search for the behavioral compliance of other human beings” or “the desire to get somebody to do something that he or she would not otherwise have done.” It is a sphere of activity to be distinguished from the pursuit of ethics, interests, or honor. He introduces two dimensions—level of confinement (open or closed) and degree of monopolization, resulting in a 2 by 2 matrix: anarchy, state of nature, associations, and government. Bartolini avoids the methodological individualism of rational choice and the overly structural explanations of Weberian sociology. He writes in the tradition of Harold Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, When and How (McGraw-Hill, 1936), or Steven Lukes, Power: A Radical View (Macmillan, 1974). He draws upon a broad range of thinkers, though there are some absences. The index omits some of the cited authors and misspells Elinor Ostrom. The implicit frame of reference is the European state. The book is a clear analytical essay, with few empirical examples to flesh out the argument but without the abstraction that makes political theory hard for scholars of comparative politics to digest. An important book that deserves a wide audience among political scientists.

Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students through faculty.
Elisa Aaltola is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Eastern Finland

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