In Defense of Empathy and Justice: John Gibbs and Edwin Rutsch Dialog

John Gibbs is a professor of developmental psychology at The Ohio State University and the author of Moral Development and Reality: Beyond the Theories of Kohlberg, Hoffman, and Haidt. John says, my interests pertain to cross-cultural sociomoral development, parental socialization, empathy, prosocial behavior, and antisocial behavior.

I have, with students and colleagues, developed assessment measures of moral judgment, moral identity, social perspective-taking, self-serving cognitive distortions, and social skills. Together with Martin Hoffman he wrote an article, Hillary has a point: In defense of empathy and justice.

Hillary Rodham Clinton had a point when she recently urged:
“The most important thing each of us can do… is to try even harder to see the world through our neighbors’ eyes, to imagine what it is like to walk in their shoes, to share their pain and their hopes and their dreams”….

we emphasize that empathy and justice are co-primary or mutual. If justice serves empathy, the reverse is certainly also true …

Morality is most objective and compelling when justice and empathy align. That is, the moral prescription to act is strongest when victims are both wronged and harmed.