Access to the full content is only available to members of institutions that have purchased access. If you belong to such an institution, please log in or find out more about how to order.



Empathy in Ethics

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-L161-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2020
Retrieved June 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

It is often said that empathy means to share the feelings of others, although what exactly this amounts to is a moot point. More generally, understanding other minds by taking their point of view – which does not necessarily involve feeling – has been described as empathy. Occasionally, especially in common parlance, empathy is also used to refer to an attitude of concern for others. Such concern is commonly called sympathy, which again – confusingly – used to be the term that was used for the phenomena we now refer to as empathy. Although connections between empathy and morality can be identified, empathy should not be confused with sympathy, which has straightforward moral connotations. In sum, there is no received definition of the concept of empathy. Numerous different phenomena – cognitive, affective, and conative – have been gathered under the umbrella term. In recent years, empathy has been of interest mainly in philosophy of mind, epistemology and moral philosophy.

Citing this article:
Schramme, Thomas. Empathy in Ethics, 2020, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-L161-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

Related Articles