The Rock Ethics Institute will host the second lecture in the 2022 Expanding Empathy series from 3-5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 27, via Zoom. This panel features Jason D’Cruz, associate professor of philosophy at the University at Albany, SUNY, and Juliana Schroeder, professor in the management of organizations group at University of California, Berkeley. It will focus on the topic of empathy and trust in social interactions. Pre-registration is required.
“For our second session we wanted to find a pairing that matched interests in interpersonal interactions and trust,” said C. Daryl Cameron, senior research associate in the Rock Ethics Institute (REI) and associate professor of psychology in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts. “Dr. Schroeder’s expertise on conversational dynamics as well as questions of empathy and humanization all seemed very relevant, as did Dr. D’Cruz’s work on the ethics of trusting and distrusting others. There are some intriguing connections between the two with respect to how we navigate decisions about how to engage with, empathize for and trust other people in our everyday lives.”
Cameron, convener of the REI’s Moral Agency and Development Initiative, is organizing the Expanding Empathy series in collaboration with Martina Orlandi, postdoctoral scholar in engaged ethics at the Rock Ethics Institute and the Schreyer Honors College.
The panel, which will see D’Cruz and Schroeder deliver individual lectures before joining each other for an interactive question-and-answer session, seeks to assess empathy in social interactions. The Expanding Empathy lecture series aims to examine empathy in relation to different parts of life.
“To have empathy for another person, and to trust another person, requires engaging in ‘mind reading’ — perceiving and understanding the mental states and capacities of another person,” Schroeder said. “I examine when people fail to attribute strong mental capacity to others, what I would consider a form of dehumanization, and consider the consequences of doing so for interpersonal and intergroup conflict.”
“Such challenges seem especially pertinent given the isolation that people have had from each other over the past couple of years, which has impacted the frequency and nature of our everyday interactions, and also depends on whether we think we can trust other people,” Cameron said.
The collaborative question and answer is an updated format to the Expanding Empathy series. The goal of having two speakers is to see how two fields, psychology and philosophy, view topics differently and produce collaborative dialogues.
“Some of the most exciting recent work in moral psychology has emerged from conversations between psychology and moral philosophy. Philosophers working on topics like moral deliberation, rationalization, motivation, character and virtue are paying closer attention to research in the human sciences,” D’Cruz said, “and psychologists, in turn, are drawing on problems from moral theory to frame new avenues of empirical investigation.”
Prior to the lecture, Orlandi will be releasing podcasts with both Schroeder and D’Cruz titled “Lecture #7” to highlight their backgrounds and lay a foundation for each of their lectures. There will be podcasts for each panel, which will be made accessible through the Rock Ethics Institute.
Schroeder and D’Cruz also will participate in a meeting of the Moral Agency Workshop, an interdisciplinary collective of faculty and students interested in morality and ethical decision-making. This meeting will take place following the lecture from 1-2 p.m. on Friday, April 29, on Zoom to continue discussions from the lecture and network with students and faculty.
The Expanding Empathy series aims to highlight the value of cutting-edge scientific and philosophical work on empathy and moral judgment, and to highlight the importance of the interdisciplinary moral psychology research being done at Penn State.
The Expanding Empathy lecture series is supported by Penn State’s Social Science Research Institute, Department of Psychology, Department of Philosophy, College of the Liberal Arts, College of Health and Human Development, and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.
As part of his broader research and outreach on empathy and generosity, series organizer Daryl Cameron is supported by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
Established in 2001 through the support of Doug and Julie Rock, the Rock Ethics Institute promotes engaged ethics research and ethical leadership from its home in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts.