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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 409004
Title Empathy’s purity, sympathy’s complexities
Author(s) Weele, C.N. van der
Source Biology and Philosophy 26 (2011)4. - ISSN 0169-3867 - p. 583 - 593.
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10539-011-9248-4
Department(s) LEI Consumer & behaviour
LEI Consument and Behaviour
WASS
Publication type Refereed Article in a scientific journal
Publication year 2011
Abstract Frans de Waal’s view that empathy is at the basis of morality directly seems to build on Darwin, who considered sympathy as the crucial instinct. Yet when we look closer, their understanding of the central social instinct differs considerably. De Waal sees our deeply ingrained tendency to sympathize (or rather: empathize) with others as the good side of our morally dualistic nature. For Darwin, sympathizing was not the whole story of the “workings of sympathy”; the (selfish) need to receive sympathy played just as central a role in the complex roads from sympathy to morality. Darwin’s understanding of sympathy stems from Adam Smith, who argued that the presence of morally impure motives should not be a reason for cynicism about morality. I suggest that De Waal’s approach could benefit from a more thorough alignment with the analysis of the workings of sympathy in the work of Darwin and Adam Smith
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