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Victims' Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights$
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Diana Tietjens Meyers

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199930388

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199930388.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 June 2021

Empathy and the Meanings of Human Rights in Human Lives

Empathy and the Meanings of Human Rights in Human Lives

(p.140) Chapter 4 Empathy and the Meanings of Human Rights in Human Lives
Victims' Stories and the Advancement of Human Rights

Diana Tietjens Meyers

Oxford University Press

Empathy makes an epistemic contribution to human rights. The account of empathy advocated in this chapter blends key elements from ordinary speech with helpful distinctions from David Hume and Adam Smith. It also engages with contemporary philosophical treatments of empathy, including Peter Goldie’s and Catriona Mackenzie and Jackie Leach Scully’s. Empathy enables you to viscerally grasp values and disvalues as another person experiences them. Analysis of A Woman in Berlin, a diary recounting an outbreak of mass rape during armed combat, rebuts Sonia Kruks’s claim that sexed/gendered embodiment impedes empathy with differently embodied others. This story induces empathy with attacks on our common humanity and with the individuality of a victim’s suffering. Empathetically processed, the gravity of human rights abuse, the moral void that many victims’ stories depict, and the demand they issue for a moral response are viscerally encoded. As a result, empathy can transform your value system.

Keywords:   empathy, Peter Goldie, Catriona Mackenzie, Jackie Leach Scully, Sonia Kruks, A Woman in Berlin, rape, embodiment, common humanity, individuality

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