Imagining Yourself in Another's Shoes vs. Extending Your Concern: Empirical and Ethical Differences

Eric Schwitzgebel

forthcoming in Daedalus.

According to the Golden Rule, you should do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Similarly, people are often exhorted to "imagine themselves in another's shoes." A related but contrasting approach to moral expansion traces back to the ancient Chinese philosopher Mengzi, who urges us to "extend" our concern for those nearby to more distant people. Other approaches to moral expansion involve: attending to the good consequences for oneself of caring for others, expanding one's sense of self, expanding one's sense of community, attending to others' morally relevant properties, and learning by doing. About all such approaches, we can ask three types of question: To what extent do people in fact (e.g., developmentally) broaden and deepen their care for others by these different methods? To what extent do these different methods differ in ethical merit? And how effectively do these different methods produce appropriate care?

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