Please join us for a lecture by Dr. Victoria McGeer titled "Empathy Internalized: On the Scaffolding Power of Self-Directed Emotion". Victoria McGeer is a Senior Research Scholar in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, and an Associate Professor in the School of Philosophy at the Australian National University.
It is commonly accepted that empathy plays a key role in moral agency. More deeply, it is often held to play a critical role in (adult) moral development by generating self-castigating emotions of guilt, shame and remorse when we are brought face to face with the wrongs we do to others. In defense of this commonsense view, I argue the self-castigating emotions can be epistemically valuable so far as they promote insight into our conduct and character that may be necessary for such development. But more problematically, these emotions can also be motivationally counterproductive for such development. To overcome this problem, I examine the conditions under which these self-castigating emotions can be managed, contained or metabolized, thereby supporting rather than defeating our self-development. My claim will be that forging an empathetic connection with our own erring self is an essential part of this developmental process.