Title

Empathy and agency: The problem of understanding in the human sciences

Document Type

Book

Publication Date

1-1-2018

Subject Area

ARRAY(0x55f697ee9a18)

Abstract

A crucial debate currently raging in the fields of cognitive and social science centers around general and specific approaches to understanding the actions of others. When we understand the actions of another person, do we do so on the basis of a general theory of psychology, or on the basis of an effort to place ourselves in the particular position of that specific person? Hans Kgler and Karsten Stuebers Empathy and Agency addresses this and other issues vital to current social science, in an advanced and diverse analysis of the foundations of social-scientific methodology based on recent cognitive psychology. The book serves as both an introduction to the debate for non-academic audiences and as a catalyst for further discussion for serious theorists. Empathy and Agency provides a solid foundation of the fundamental issues in social and cognitive science, but also presents the most influential paradigms in the field at this time. How do we, as interpreters and theorists in the human and social sciences, understand agency? What are the methods, models, and mediating theoretical frameworks that allow us to give a reliable and adequate account of beliefs, actions, and cultural practices? More specifically, how can we as interpretive analysts employ our own cognitive capacities so as to render the beliefs, intentions, and actions of other human beings intelligible? These are the leading questions that a group of well-established social philosophers explore in this volume in light of the most recent (and hotly debated) findings in cognitive science, developmental psychology, and philosophy of mind. In particular, the debate concerning simulation -- whether agents interpret others by means of implicit theoretical assumptions, or whether they rather simulate their behavior by putting themselves in their shoes -- has produced a wide set of important empirical and philosophical insights. This book takes up those insights and discusses their impact in the context of their most important paradigms in social methodology today.A systematic introduction pertaining to the understanding-explanation debate sets the stage, followed by eleven chapters representing the different approaches tot he field. The paradigms include Wittgensteinian, Davidsonian and Diltheyan approaches, hermeneutics and critical theory, game theory, naturalized epistemology, philosophy of history and twentieth-century social theory, as well as simulation approach proper. As stake are the relation between everyday and social-scientific interpretation, the role of empathy (or role-taking) in understanding human agency, the implications of attributing rationality in the course of interpretation, as well as the relation between rational and causal models in social explanation. The discussions cut across well-established disciplinary boundaries so that the book appeals to both analytic and hermeneutic traditions within philosophy. In addition, the book speaks to all who are engaged in interpreting or explaining human agency in the cultural and social sciences.

Publication Title

Empathy and Agency: The Problem of Understanding in the Human Sciences

First Page

1

Last Page

318

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.4324/9780429500831

ISBN

9780429969386,9780813391199

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