Conference: The Objects of Empathy: Perspectives from Ethics, Aesthetics and Neuroscience – Universität Stuttgart – July 27-29, 2016

Interdisciplinary research into empathy has, up until now, focussed mainly on the role of empathy in mindreading and its importance for pro-social behaviour.


Empathy can, however, also be directed at a variety of different objects beyond other people, such as literature, music, nature, and artefacts.

  • What is the connection between these different forms of empathy?
  • Do they share a common psychological or neural base?


We suggest that an investigation into empathy that takes into account its different kinds of objects will allow us to better understand its nature and evaluate whether ’empathy’ is a homogenous or heterogeneous concept. 

The aim of this conference is to bring together top researchers in the field of empathy from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience and to look at empathy and its various kinds of objects in different contexts, e.g., in ethics and aesthetics.


By associating these strands of research which have, so far, not been properly connected, and by combining perspectives from neuroscience and psychology as well as the humanities we hope to make progress in developing a unified concept of empathy and in defining its central role in our interaction with the world and with other people.