Chapter 3 brings Smithian empathy into conversation with contemporary empirical research and moral theory. It takes up a somewhat disparate array of topics, beginning with the relationship of Smith’s work to theories in cognitive psychology and the philosophy of mind, and moving from there to empirical work on novel-reading and empathy, psychotherapy and empathy, the nexus between empathy and altruism, and the question of whether animals have empathy. Some contemporary findings reinforce Smith’s views; others provide reason to modify Smithian empathy in certain ways. The chapter concludes with a look at how Smith’s account of empathy can illuminate, and be illuminated by, work in contemporary moral theory on care and on epistemic justice.
Keywords: novel-reading, psychotherapy, altruism, care, animals, epistemic justice, empathy