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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter March 19, 2010

Intuitvely Assessed Reasonableness as a Criterion of Validity in Empathetic Understanding

Henrik Bohlin
From the journal


By what criteria can an empathetic interpreter justify the inference from the fact that, when simulating another person, he himself forms such-and-such intentions to act in the imagined situation, to the supposed fact that the person simulated formed or will form the same intentions? It is suggested that the interpreter determines this by normatively assessing the reasons for and against the action, simply following his own subjective or perspective-dependent criteria for what is reasonable to believe, desire, and do in the given situation. If the interpreter finds the other's action to be well-motivated, this is indication that the interpreter shares the perspective of the other, and hence that the explanation is valid. In Hans-Georg Gadamer's words: understanding is, primarily, agreement. A possible objection is that this turns interpretation into something purely subjective and relative. It is argued that the relativity involved is harmless and does not imply relativism in any important sense.

Published Online: 2010-03-19
Published in Print: 2009-May

© Philosophia Press 2009