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Embodied Cognition and Loving Character

Empathy and Character in Moral Formation

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Empathy and character are concepts that many hold to be at the center of human morality. Currently, however, they are subject to sustained scholarly suspicion among social scientists, genealogically minded humanists, and moral philosophers from both utilitarian and deontological perspectives. This paper presents a close reading of influential attacks and their scientific bases and argues that they emerge from a shared model of the human mind and self that opposes reason and affect in a zero-sum game. The paper critiques these accounts and presents an alternative model of moral character for virtuous construal in which character is not identified with static, inflexible traits, dispositions, or habits, but with affectively dynamic and context-sensitive schemas supporting a mindfulness of others' needs in action.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2015

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  • Philosophy, Theology and the Sciences (PTSc) is a new peer-reviewed biannual journal which provides a platform for constructive and critical interactions between the natural sciences in all their varieties (from physics and biology to psychology, anthropology and social science) and the fields of contemporary philosophy and theology. It invites scholars, religious or non-religious, to participate in that endeavor. The journal provides the rare opportunity to examine together the truth claims found in theology, philosophy, and the sciences, as well as the methods found in each disciplines and the meanings derived from them. Each issue will have a topical focus.

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