The Pennsylvania State University
Cover for the book Empathy and Democracy

Empathy and Democracy

Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation Michael E. Morrell
  • Copyright: 2010
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 232 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-03659-5
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-03660-1

Hardcover Edition: $60Add to Cart

Paperback Edition: $25.95Add to Cart

Empathy and Democracy challenges those who would exclude empathy from democracy—and even those who would include it as a ‘feeling.’ Bringing empirical studies and a highly developed understanding of empathy as a ‘process’ to bear on the theory of deliberative democracy, Michael Morrell moves beyond critique to offer a positive theory of how affect and reason combine in deliberation. This book is a significant contribution to democratic theory that will be useful not only to political theorists but also to anyone with an interest in deliberative democracy and empathy.”
“Impressive for its close integration of political theory and research in political psychology, Morrell’s book sets a very high standard for analysis in a field of growing importance.”
Empathy and Democracy demonstrates the importance of empathy in the deliberative practices that make democratic government legitimate. Deftly interweaving empirical research on the role of empathy in deliberation with a normative theory of democratic legitimacy, Morrell delivers a thoroughly researched, carefully argued book that will significantly revise conventional notions of how democratic deliberation ought to be conducted. It is valuable not only for the conceptual clarification it provides, but also for the way that it ties normative theorizing about democratic deliberation and legitimacy to empirically verifiable facts about human psychology and patterns of social interaction.”

Democracy harbors within it fundamental tensions between the ideal of giving everyone equal consideration and the reality of having to make legitimate, binding collective decisions. Democracies have granted political rights to more groups of people, but formal rights have not always guaranteed equal consideration or democratic legitimacy.

It is Michael Morrell’s argument in this book that empathy plays a crucial role in enabling democratic deliberation to function the way it should. Drawing on empirical studies of empathy, including his own, Morrell offers a “process model of empathy” that incorporates both affect and cognition. He shows how this model can help democratic theorists who emphasize the importance of deliberation answer their critics.

Michael E. Morrell is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut.

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