Empathy and Democracy

Feeling, Thinking, and Deliberation

By (author) Michael E. Morrell

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 May 2013

Length of book:

232 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271036601

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.

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.”

—Cheryl Hall, University of South Florida