Third 2022 Expanding Empathy lecture to examine empathy with perspective

Third 2022 Expanding Empathy lecture to examine empathy with perspective

The Rock Ethics Institute will host the third lecture in the 2022 Expanding Empathy series from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 4, on Zoom. This panel features Heidi Maibom, professor of philosophy at the University of Cincinnati, and Stefan Pfattheicher, associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at Aarhus University. It will focus on the topic of empathy and prosociality. Pre-registration is required.

“We selected these speakers because of their influential work on how empathy relates to ethics,”

said C. Daryl Cameron, senior research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute (REI) and associate professor of psychology in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts. “Dr. Maibom has written extensively on the role of empathy in moral judgment and moral behavior and is a prominent advocate of publicly engaged philosophy. Dr. Pfattheicher has done some influential work on how empathy can promote public health behaviors during COVID-19 and additionally has written extensively on the nuances of punishment and prosocial behavior.”

Cameron, convener of the REI’s Moral Agency and Development Initiative, is organizing the Expanding Empathy series in collaboration with Martina Orlandi, postdoctoral scholar in engaged ethics at the Rock Ethics Institute and the Schreyer Honors College.

The panel will see Maibom and Pfattheicher deliver individual lectures before joining each other for an interactive question and answer section, seeks to assess empathy in social interactions. The Expanding Empathy lecture series aims to examine empathy in relation to different parts of life.

“Empathy is a valuable human trait that creates a bond between people and promotes prosocial behavior. In my research, I also investigate when empathy does not unfold its beautiful side, or when it even motivates us to harm other people,” Pfattheicher said.

Maibom added, “An important theme of my work is that we don’t get to decide WHAT we do. That is, our actions are the actions that they are as a result of how they play out in the world, how people are affected by them and how they react to them.”

The collaborative question and answer is an updated format to the Expanding Empathy series. The goal of having two speakers is to see how two fields, psychology and philosophy, view topics differently and produce collaborative dialogues.

“The remarkable aspect of interdisciplinary conversations is learning — about others’ ideas and perspectives,” Pfattheicher explained.

Prior to the lecture, Martina Orlandi will be releasing podcasts with both Maibom and Pfattheicher, titled “Lecture #7,” to highlight their backgrounds and lay a foundation for each of their lectures. The podcasts for each panel will be are accessible through Cameron’s Empathy and Moral Psychology collaborations page on his website. They will also be available through the Rock Ethics Institute’s website.

Maibom and Pfattheicher will also participate in a meeting of the Moral Agency Workshop, an interdisciplinary collective of faculty and students interested in morality and ethical decision-making. This meeting will take place following the lecture from 3-4 p.m., also on Wednesday, May 4, on Zoom to continue discussions from the lecture and network with students and faculty.

The Expanding Empathy series aims to highlight the value of cutting-edge scientific and philosophical work on empathy and moral judgment, and to highlight the importance of the interdisciplinary moral psychology research being done at Penn State.

The Expanding Empathy lecture series is supported by Penn State’s Social Science Research InstituteDepartment of PsychologyDepartment of PhilosophyCollege of the Liberal ArtsCollege of Health and Human Development, and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.

As part of his broader research and outreach on empathy and generosity, series organizer Daryl Cameron is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Established in 2001 through the support of Doug and Julie Rock, the Rock Ethics Institute promotes engaged ethics research and ethical leadership from its home in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.

Topic(s): Expanding Empathy Lecture Series
Expanding Empathy poster for Maibom and Pfatteicher
Image Credit: Tiny Little Hammers