- Purchase/rental options available:
In this paper, I construct an ethical-aesthetic account based on the work of Arthur Schopenhauer and Iris Murdoch, centered on the claims that motive matters to morality and that, specifically, acting from compassion—understood as a combination of cognitive empathy and concern—is necessary for making moral decisions. I present empirical evidence that we are naturally inaccurate when it comes to cognitive empathy, suggesting that many of our moral decisions are made in ignorance of the interests of others. We can improve our empathic accuracy by becoming more adept at decentering on our own perspective and recentering on those of others. My account holds that aesthetic experience often requires us to decenter and that we can acquire what I have called imaginative flexibility through our engagement with certain kinds of art. Finally, I provide evidence supporting my claims that art has this value.