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Empathy as a necessary condition of phronesis: a line of thought for medical ethics
Södertörn University, School of Culture and Education, Centre for Studies in Practical Knowledge.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8973-8591
2014 (English)In: Medicine, Health care and Philosophy, ISSN 1386-7423, E-ISSN 1572-8633, Vol. 17, no 2, 293-299 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Empathy is a thing constantly asked for and stressed as a central skill and character trait of the good physician and nurse. To be a good doctor or a good nurse one needs to be empathic-one needs to be able to feel and understand the needs and wishes of patients in order to help them in the best possible way, in a medical, as well as in an ethical sense. The problem with most studies of empathy in medicine is that empathy is poorly defined and tends to overlap with other related things, such as emotional contagion, sympathy, or a caring personality in general. It is far from clear how empathy fits into the general picture of medical ethics and the framework of norms that are most often stressed there, such as respect for autonomy and beneficience. How are we to look upon the role and importance of empathy in medical ethics? Is empathy an affective and/or cognitive phenomenon only, or does it carry moral significance in itself as a skill and/or virtue? How does empathy attain moral importance for medicine? In this paper I will attempt to show that a comparison with the Aristotelian concept of phronesis makes it easier to see what empathy is and how it fits into the general picture of medical ethics. I will argue that empathy is a basic condition and source of moral knowledge by being the feeling component of phronesis, and, by the same power, it is also a motivation for acting in a good way.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 17, no 2, 293-299 p.
Keyword [en]
Aristotle; Emotion; Feeling; Phenomenology; Virtue ethics
National Category
Philosophy Medical Ethics
Research subject
Critical and Cultural Theory; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-22991DOI: 10.1007/s11019-013-9487-zISI: 000334122500015PubMedID: 24687325Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-84897567228Local ID: 726/3.1.1/2014OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-22991DiVA: diva2:711489
Projects
The Phenomenology of Suffering in Medicine: Explorations in the Baltic Sea Region
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, 726/3.1.1/2014
Available from: 2014-04-10 Created: 2014-04-10 Last updated: 2016-10-10Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • asciidoc
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