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Empathy and Propositional Knowledge

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Empathy is often described as an evolutionary tool that helps humans manoeuvre between the complexities of our social hierarchy. As it allows us to understand other people's intentions, it is often categorized as an element of social cognition that can lead to a form of know-how. This paper will argue that empathy can lead to more than know-how. Using data from psychology and neuroscience, I will sketch empathizing as a reliable process. On the assumption of reliabilism, I will show that empathizing as a generally reliable process can produce justified beliefs and thus that the empathizing process can lead to propositional knowledge. In passing I shall reveal some flaws in an influential line of research on empathy in psychology, which in turn exposes a more fundamental, conceptual, problem with empirical research on

Document Type: Research Article

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Publication date: January 1, 2007


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