End of Life Ethics: The Right to Die

The end of a loved one’s life is a very emotion filled time for everyone close to them. Services like hospice care and life support cause great upset in society due to the massive variance between cultures in society. These beliefs clash so harshly that it proves to be a significant obstacle when defining laws about end of life care. I think this is a fascinating topic, not only because of its controversial nature, but the fact that it very directly affects all of us. Eventually, all of us will have to obey the laws we set earlier in our lives regarding our death.

Euthanasia is one of these controversial topics. The word itself is derived from the Greek words for “good” and “death”, inferring that it is what the victim wants. Interestingly enough, this word has the exact opposite reaction in society. On one hand, many people believe that people deserve the right to end their life. If the quality of your life is only suffering, then the victim should have the right to end it. Euthanasia is almost always associated with negative connotations because of its “murder” like actions. This is because it is referred to as more active killing, versus simply letting the victim die. Then it seems more like a crime, which is huge argument for making assisted suicide illegal.

Assisted suicide is closely related to euthanasia yet very different. If the patient performs the final act that ultimately kills them, it is considered assisted suicide. Controversy surrounds this method of death due to the fact that someone aids a “wrong act”. The line between assisted suicide is also a very blurry one. It can be very close to murder if the patient is too weak and is therefore taken advantage of. The major benefit of assisted suicide is that it maintains dignity for the victim. The ability for the victim to make his/her own decisions makes the grief much easier to handle after death.

End of life is a very troubling time for both the victim and everyone around them. This is why these decisions based around end of life ethics are need to satisfy everyone’s desires. Because of the many restricted laws in our current end of life system, most people suffer against their will. This is not only unethical, but just plain wrong. I intend to examine these methods of death, pursuing what is most ethical.

 

Potential Works Cited:

Boisvert, Marcel. “Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” The Permanente Journal 16.2 (2012): 75–76. Print.

Soh, Tze Ling Gwendoline Beatrice et al. “Distancing Sedation in End-of-Life Care from Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” Singapore Medical Journal 57.5 (2016): 220–227. PMC. Web. 14 Nov. 2016.

Bascom P. End-of-Life Ethics. JAMA. 2006;296(3):336-341. doi:10.1001/jama.296.3.339

Oil and Water or Morality and Empathy?

Oil and Water

It is difficult to have empathy for someone that you morally disagree with. Morals define what we find acceptable. They determine what you are capable of doing. They determine how you judge the actions of other people. Morals are what determine what you have empathy for and what you judge and openly disagree with. According to Reynolds and Ceranic, moral judgement shapes moral behavior which shapes the way people judge others actions (1610). In my series of blog posts the morality of actions is contrasted against the empathy felt for them.

Don’t remove morals like this wall was removed

“Should We Have Empathy for the Devil”? Can you have empathy for someone that did something you morally disagree with? Adam Morton explains why people tend to not have empathy for people who have committed atrocious acts. He also seems to hint that people should have this empathy. I argued, using a piece on perspective taking written by Chambers, that one should not have empathy for atrocious acts because they could not imagine themselves properly in that perspective. You should not have to remove your morals to destroy your lack of empathy for an atrocious act.

Kenneth Cole, a king of fashion committed a social “Fashion Faux Pas”. His tweets are a good example of the lack of empathy in social media. His tweets went viral for this supposed lack of empathy for certain events. Though Cole meant these tweets as jokes they were not received this way. People were outraged at what he was saying, that he was making fun of tragic events. This is an example of morals not leading to empathy. The people who read Cole’s tweets did not care that they could anger or humiliate him by publicly shaming him for his tweet. They knew that they morally disagreed with what he was saying and wanted this to be known by all. They wanted him to know that his tweet was offensive. They felt no empathy for him even though it was just a poorly received joke.

Jean Louise and Atticus fought about his viewpoint

In my blog post “Was Atticus Finch a Fake?”, I argue that Atticus was the same person in To Kill Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman. Jean Louise has many moral issues with her father throughout the second novel. She does not agree with his opinions and cannot see how this man is the same man from her childhood. Her morals make her completely reject his point of view. However, later she begins to empathize with why he feels the way he does though she will never agree with it. This was something that was very difficult for her to do and it was not naturally felt. The empathy Jean Louise felt for Atticus was forced and not at all in line with her morals. She at first very vehemently opposed her father’s viewpoint (an example of moral judments shaping behavior and judgements). Her morals limited the ease of her empathy, though she was eventually able to force her empathy. Moral inhibitions to empathy can be overcome but it takes great effort.

Morals have a strong tie to the empathy people feel. In many people, the moral barrier cannot be overcome so that empathy can be felt. Morals always coincide with a person’s initial response of empathy. However, these morals can be overcome and if the person is willing enough to take the true perspective of the person in question, empathy can be felt. For this to happen there often must be a deep cause for the person to work hard enough to overcome their morals. The morality of certain actions or ideas will lead to a rightful lack of empathy for those actions or ideas, unless those morals are suppressed.

Works Cited:

Belani, Abby. “Deconstructing Empathy in the Digital Age.” Impakter. N.p., 31 Mar. 2016. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. <http://impakter.com/deconstructing-empathy-in-the-digital-age/>.

Chambers, JR, and MH Davis. “The Role of the Self in Perspective-Taking and Empathy: Ease of Self-Simulation as a Heuristic for Inferring Empathic Feelings.” Social Cognition 30.2 (2012): 153-80. Web. 12 Oct. 2016.

Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. New York: Harper Collins, 2015. Print.

Morton, Adam. “Empathy for the Devil.” Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Ed. Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2014. 318-330. Print.

O’Toole, James. “Kenneth Cole’s Tweet on Syria Sparks Outrage.” CNNMoney. Cable News Network, 5 Sept. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2016. <http://money.cnn.com/2013/09/05/news/companies/kenneth-cole-tweet/index.html>.

Reynolds, Scott J., and Tara L. Ceranic. “The Effects of Moral Judgment and Moral Identity on Moral Behavior: An Empirical Examination of the Moral Individual.” Journal of Applied Psychology 92.6 (2007): 1610-24. Web. 2 Nov 2016.

Image References:

Image 1: http://adamdavidmorton.com/2014/01/the-limits-of-sociological-marxism/

Image 2: http://www.deepertruthblog.com/blogsite/tag/priest-vestments/

Image 3: http://www.counselorlink.com/couples-counseling-whos-it-for/

Visualizing Empathy – Part 2

empathy-3

Empathy 3

As we’ve learned throughout this class, and as the image above demonstrates, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

 

empathy-3

Empathy 3

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

 

 

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept, as is illustrated by the image below.

empathy-3

Empathy 3

 

Works Cited
Morton, Adam. “Empathy for the Devil.” Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Ed. by Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2011. 318-30.


Image references
Empathy 1
http://personalitygrowth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Empathy.jpg?2aa4f6

Empathy 2
http://www.relatably.com/m/img/empathetic-memes/d8965e281b3d08be099b706edadd15d0565d561ae35e9d07bb8fa0d637c8a678

Empathy 3
Borrowed from the blog post of Shalini Shah
Link TBD

Visualizing Empathy – Part 1

Empathy 1

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

Empathy 2

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

empathy-3

Empathy 3

As we’ve learned throughout this class, empathy is a slippery concept. It seems that we have seen as many definitions of the term as we have authors who have addressed themselves to explaining it (or some part of it). And of course there’s always the confusion of when empathy is “legitimate,” versus when we might be experiencing what Adam Morton calls “pseudo-empathy” (327). How well do we need to understand the particulars of a person’s situation to empathize with that person? How much of that person’s experience do we need to have shared in order to empathize? If we have shared some part of it, does that count? What are the “important” parts? Perhaps a thorny, related question is, can it be insulting to a person for us to assume we can empathize with her if we base that assumption on an exaggerated idea of our familiarity with her suffering? We’ve likely all been in the position of having someone tell us that they “know how we feel,” when we are quite certain that they have no idea. Which, come to think of it, is another way of saying that we can all empathize with that feeling. So is that empathy enough? Yes, empathy is definitely a slippery concept.

 

Works Cited
Morton, Adam. “Empathy for the Devil.” Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. Ed. by Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie. Oxford, UK: Oxford UP, 2011. 318-30.


Image references
Empathy 1
https://personalitygrowth.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Empathy.jpg?2aa4f6

Empathy 2
http://www.relatably.com/m/img/empathetic-memes/d8965e281b3d08be099b706edadd15d0565d561ae35e9d07bb8fa0d637c8a678

Empathy 3
Borrowed from the blog post of Shalini Shah
Link TBD

Formal Assignment 1

First, there are sins, then there are laws. Sin regenerates with flexible appearances, as justice seconds the trait. Although meant to serve its people, law codes contain a major flaw: it is apathetic and rigid, nothing human.  Which is why the written laws alone cannot represent justice unless there’s also an input of contemporary and appropriate empathy. The definition of justice is ever changing. In order to carry out justice in court, the jurors must present “judicial empathy” (EJL), which stands for comprehensive, unbiased, and appropriate (empathize with all perspectives but not especially emotionally attached to any) empathy. In the movie A time to Kill, the Jurors are influenced by various factors including the commotion outside of the court, the words of witnesses, and the performance of the lawyers. All of which infests bias within the jurors, harming their ability to see from every possible perspective and act as a “judicious spectator”.

As the movie progresses, the jurors are presented with voluminous information for them to debate whether if Carl Lee’s killing is justified. They are ordinary citizens, who can see nothing deeper than rumors and Carl Lee’s skin before the trial started. While the viewer sees a bit more through his responses to his daughter’s tragic. Both the viewers of and the jurors in the movie are attaining Carl Lee’s side of the story far more than seeing the two supremacists’ (Nicky Katt and Doug Hutchison) (TK).  Moreover, the Jurors’ decisions depends chiefly upon how much they sympathize with the words coming from each attorneys’ mouth, and perhaps feel more empathy of one of the sides. Leaving the trial’s audiences to be more likely to stand with Carl Lee. First, there are hundreds of African Americans yelling outside of the court for Carl Lee to be free. Second, Deputy Dwayne Looney confesses that he cannot blame Carl Lee for his lost leg and believes he would have done what Carl Lee did if he was at the same situation. Third, Jake’s profound closing statement allow the Jurors to feel what Carl Lee was feeling when he saw what happened to his daughter (TK).%e5%b1%8f%e5%b9%95%e6%88%aa%e5%9b%be-2016-09-25-16-46-01

There are barely any stories from the supremacists’ side except for Billy Ray Cobb’s mother Cora Mae Cobb’s tears, which only had a brief appearance comparing to any other witnesses’ speech defending for Carl Lee’s actions (TK).  The also hint about the insufficiency in both stories by inputting Dr.Willard Tyrrel Bass’ experience. Where he was convicted statutory rape, where the victim become his current wife (TK). Both the viewer and jurors lack the essential information necessary to make a fair judgment. For all who believe that they are able to decipher whether if Carl Lee should be Guilty or not is not acting as a “judicious spectator” (RE) – “whose judgments and responses are intended to provide a paradigm of public rationality. Like what Jake recommended, most jurors have thought with their hearts but little analytics.%e5%b1%8f%e5%b9%95%e6%88%aa%e5%9b%be-2016-09-26-13-17-39

There is redundant “empathetic bias” mounted in the court, which is triggered by Jake’s speech ever so similar to a “victim-impacted statement” (EJL). When the jurors have to close their eyes and ingest a riveting experience of a little girl being abused, their empathy will arouse easily. The jurors will feel emotionally pressured to stand up for the Tonya, while losing focus on the actual case – the murder. Sarcastically, Jake, who the jurors based upon for their vote, have only heard the story from Carl Lee (JK). While Carl Lee carries a great amount of emotional color as he is telling about the tragic event. When Jake himself is affected by emotions and biased, who is really trustworthy on the court? Even the viewers only see the film majority from Jake’s point of view, which is not the primary document anymore. Meanwhile, the adversities that Jake, his family and his friends face are producing an “empathic feeling of injustice” (EJL) for the viewers. Jake didn’t commit any crime, yet his personal life is threatened by KKK as he fights for Carl Lee’s case. Instinctively, seeing someone “punished for more than he deserves” (EJL), most film audiences’ empathetic anger would lead them to trust the victim and desire the victim to achieve what he/she is struggling for; in this situation – for Carl Lee to win his case.

A “Judicious spectator” (RE) not only would realize there is a lack of information, he/she would also pull back and think in a bigger picture: “What would happen if Carl Lee wins his case?”, “Who else did Carl Lee harm when he murdered the men?” The fact is, Carl Lee set his own family at stake when he decided to commit the murder, knowingly. He knows they are incapable of supporting themselves, and he knows he might die. He begged/manipulated Jake to save him because he is ready to murder, but not ready to accept the consequence. He is not a follower of justice himself, despite his verbal pity for his victims’ parents(TK). Carl Lee would also be responsible the image he projects for his two growing boys. Carl Lee, as a role model for his two boys to look up to, used violence as the resort to attain the “justice” in his mind. When he is announced “innocent” (TK), what would the two young boys consider to be “right” or “just”? These are just a few examples of where. The jurors might be “too empathetic” to think about a bigger picture. Not to mention that Carl Lee plea for not guilty because he was “insane”, which can’t be proven.

In the film A Time to Kill, although Carl Lee’s case seems to be justice’s advocate in terms that the jurors look pass race to make their decision, any shuffle in perspective would suggest that the case is not black and white – the viewers don’t have enough information to judge whether if justice is served, or if empathy is placed in the appropriate place. Not many thought of Nicky Katt and Doug Hutchison’s parents or hear from their perspective. Without hearing them out, no one can name the resolution justice. The amount of distracting factors leads the jurors on to prejudice while concerning that they are definitely for justice. The film didn’t exist for its audience to say who is right or who is wrong, it is there to say no one is perfectly right. It comes to a perfect circle: Nicky Katt and Doug Hutchison spits at the African Americans in the beginning of the film, and the African American protestors spit at the KKK at the end of the film.

 

Works Cited:

“A Time to Kill,” Dir. Joel Schumacher. Perf. Sandra Bullock, Samuel L. Jackson, Matthew McConaughey, Kevin Spacey, Brenda Fricker, Oliver Platt. 1996.http://digitalcampus.swankmp.net/rochester274683/watch?token=6b856fd35ec9027d47a2ccbe87d8e5843937de4304f92e7d4c5743a463e11163.

Hoffman, Martin L. “Empathy, Justice, and Law.” https://learn.rochester.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-727601-dt-content-rid-1890782_1/courses/wrt105.2016fall.41376/hoffman_empathyjusticelaw.pdf.

Nussbaum, Matha. “Rational Emotions.” https://learn.rochester.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-731489-dt-content-rid-1904680_1/courses/wrt105.2016fall.41376/nussbaum_rationalemotions.pdf.

Blog Assignment 2: Atticus’ Closing Argument Rewrite

Gentleman, we have witnessed one strange case. However, no unusualness should escape the laws lying beneath justice, nor under the name of god. Basing upon reliable evidence and logic that all of us are witnessing, Tom Robinson have no ability nor intent to rape Miss Mayella. He is wronged by the unpolished story crafted by Mr. Ewell and Miss Mayella. A story guilty of ridicule inconsistencies. Mr. Ewell and Miss Mayella may have forgotten about all of the critical eyes laying on them right around this room, watching with upright, scrutinizing for all but the truth.

Under multiple occasions, the testimonies of the two witnesses defied logic. First of all, Mr. Ewell did not call for a doctor when he saw the terrific wounds on his daughter, meanwhile, there is no proof about when or where exactly did the wounds embedded. This is uncommon for any caring father. Meanwhile, considering the medical evidence supporting that the wound on Miss Mayella’s right eye is likely to be stricken by a left hand, Tom Robinson’s handicapped left arm are an indication that there are other unusual causes for the injury. Some may think, what if Tom Robinson had thought of a way to generate this resulted wound? Well, an uneducated man imprudent enough to run his arm through a simple machine like a cotton gin wouldn’t possibly be clever enough to alter professional medical reports or even think fast enough before his action took place.

Judging from another point of view, Miss Mayella’s testimonies are undependable due to her struggles and self-contradictions as she faces the question if Tom Robinson had beaten up her face. Miss Mayella have disregarded our bible when she speaks on this court. She has betrayed the purpose of a trial: to be fair and just. She lied to place a flinch and harmless citizen’s life at stake- for her, and only her own selfish need to earn the peace of mind after her restless guilt of attempting a helplessly black man. All direct and indirect evidence leading to one single solution: Poor Tom Robinson is innocent.

“Actions speak louder than words, but not nearly as often.” Day by day, Tom Robinson has only portrayed himself as an obedient, hardworking, and reverent individual who barely raises his head when he’s talked to. All he did on August 21st was following Miss Mayella’s order to reach for a box on top of a Chiffarobe before any incidents occur. Even Miss Mayella herself stated the fact that Tom Robinson is constantly helping with her choirs. A weak, rustic man like Tom Robinson have no possible motive to ever assault a healthy, young white lady but to demonstrate full reverence to her.

Dear Gentlemen, this is our duty- to follow for nothing but the tangible evidence. This case is crystal clear in terms of who’s the truly innocuous victim. Mr. Ewell and Miss Mayella’s insensitive lie filled with loopholes will not carry them far. A great opportunity is laying in front of us, as the holders of justice, to demonstrate to our audience, regardless of race, that integrity is the only trait that holds until the end, within a court. None can move our passion searching for truth and justifying our constitution.

Works Cited:

To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. By Horton Foote. Perf. Gregory Peck, Mary Badham, and Phillip Alford. Universal-International, 1962. Online. Netflix. Web. 12 Sept. 2016.

Blog Post #1- “Empathy, Justice, and the Law” by Martin L. Hoffman

Martin L. Hoffman’s, “Empathy, Justice, and the Law” discusses how empathy is provoked and  then how it is relevant in law. He concludes that people tend to have good consciences and as a result, they often try to empathize with someone in distress and they try to help out these victims. In terms of law, this innate tendency to empathize can get in the way of determining the legality of a case, so while empathy is an inherently good trait, it can skew one’s perception in a legal case. Hoffman claims that people begin to develop a elementary sense of empathy, affective empathy to be more specific, at a young age, perhaps as young as three or fours years old. Subsequently, as one develop, he/she understands more about the world, the way people feel, and the way a victim’s situation affects the feelings a person has. According to Hoffman, empathy has driven many acts of empathy, such as the German people saving the Jews from the Nazis. However, in terms of law, Hoffman argues that while empathy can be relevant in the case of law, it can also be biased in determining the legal outcome of a case. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, for example, brings proper awareness to the unfairness and cruelity of slavery, showing that empathy can help in law. People recognize the unjustified struggle that enslaved people faced on plantations and through their empathy, slavery was abolish thanks to empathy. Thanks to a level of awareness, people were able to do something about a moral issue that they felt morally obligated to help with. However, in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson, which ultimately worked to desegregate school, the bias of empathy in a legal case is seen because looking at the struggle black kids faced having to be separated and put in inferior schools made people feel bad for them and want to help them. While empathy was a major player in the ultimate decision to desegregate, Hoffman argues that empathy is still important to have in these cases to make the right moral ruling.

A key word that Hoffman uses frequently throughout the piece is “distress” specifically in the case of empathic distress. Hoffman uses the term “empathic distress” to express the idea that the innate goodness of people causes them to feel distress in the case of another person’s suffering. Whether this is because the “empathizer” is relating back to a similar traumatizing experience related to the victim’s distress or they can just deeply understand how difficult someone’s situation is, people tend to help someone in distress because they empathize with them.  In terms of the law, court officials saw the distress that victims were going through and the natural reaction for them to empathize, at least to some extent with them, led to morally good rulings.

Works Cited

Hoffman, Martin L. “14 Empathy, Justice, and the Law.” Empathy: Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives. By Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie. N.p.: n.p., 2011. 230+. Oxford Scholarship, Jan. 2012. Web. 7 Sept. 2016.

Blog Assignment 1 – …And Justice for Law – A Summary of Hoffman’s “Empathy, Justice, and Law”

              Hoffman writes in “Empathy, Justice, and the Law” his ideal vision of the current justice system and its empathy’s ability to interfere with important decisions. In order for an unflawed and fair system, Hoffman claims that our justice system should be “cleansed of emotion, so that reason and logic can prevail.” Whether it be a juror, judge, police officer, or civilian, the inevitable exposure to various events can skew their opinion with the power of empathy. According to Hoffman, this empathy is inevitable. Not only does it start at “around the age of 2, but it “becomes so intense and penetrates so deeply into one’s motive system that it changes one’s behavior beyond the immediate situation.” In the text, Hoffman provides the example of Stowe’s letter of the emaciating conditions of slavery. This letter goes on to become the second bestselling book (only after the bible) in the 19th century. The empathic distress cut deeply into the hearts of its readers, causing a worldwide response, which processed into a movement towards abolition. A similar positive effect can be observed in the courtroom. In a case of Plessy V. Ferguson, empathy helped create a more just education system. Empathy can also negatively affect a court case, as Hoffman describes. Yes, it helps give the victim a voice in a case, however it can also bombard observers with emotion, something Hoffman calls “empathic over-arousal.” This causes observers to turn away or avoid listening to someone due to the sheer amount of emotion. In conclusion, Hoffman argues that it is impossible to react to decisions without empathy, and therefore it must be addressed and accounted for during any legal setting.

              The term “empathic distress” is scattered throughout Hoffman’s argument, and is used in each section. He uses the term to describe the response that initiates automatically when trying to empathize with someone. Essentially, this term describes almost the exact opposite of empathy. Rather than focusing on empathizing with the victim, the term describes the sometimes negative damage to the person empathizing. This is crucial to the essay as it often taking in perspectives on both sides, one of the victim and the other of the observer empathizing.

Works Cited

Hoffman, Martin L. “Empathy, Justice, and the Law.” Empathy Philosophical and Psychological Perspectives (2011): 230-54. Web. 06 Sept. 2016.