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Empathy and Morality$
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Heidi L. Maibom

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199969470

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199969470.001.0001

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Empathy, Justice, and Social Change

Empathy, Justice, and Social Change

(p.71) 4 Empathy, Justice, and Social Change
Empathy and Morality

Martin L. Hoffman

Oxford University Press

This chapter’s focus is the impact of empathic distress on laws, which are a major vehicle of profound changes in economic institutions, politics, and history—perhaps the major vehicle since laws are less subject to individual choice and affect everyone’s behavior. It draws heavily on work on empathy’s arousal, development, contribution to caring and justice motivation, its limitations, and the law review literature. The conclusions: empathy is no panacea, nor is it a sideshow as some claim, and despite its flaws it has been a constructive force in social change. Since there’s no viable alternative, empathy may be the only glue available to help conflicting groups achieve the social cohesion, conflict resolution, and cooperation needed to save the planet. So, empathy must be kept alive. Scholars can help by researching how to minimize its flaws and exploit its virtues.

Keywords:   empathy, empathic distress, justice, caring, and justice motivation

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