|dc.description.abstract||The main question of this thesis is: Is empathy a prerequisite for moral agency? Ethics
is the reflective side of morality. But, reflecting presupposes something to reflect on:
the moral domain. If you are able to recognise something as ‘moral’ (or ‘immoral’, vs.
‘amoral’) you are part of the moral realm. Moral agency refers to behaviour that is (1)
guided by reason(s) and (2) characterized by control and (3) that takes place within
the moral realm.
Empathy is a prerequisite for reason, because perspective-taking skills are
necessary for the sharing of knowledge. The sharing of knowledge is the basis for
intelligence and intelligence is the basis for reason. Because empathy is a prerequisite
for reason it is also a prerequisite for moral agency. Empathy means being able to
place yourself into someone else’s world of experiences. Seeing the other as agent
means seeing the other as someone with intentions that motivate their behaviour, thus
empathy is needed to see another as an agent.
There are reasons not to treat empathy as a prerequisite to moral agency in
practise, mainly because of the relation between moral agency and moral