Research

Overview:

My research is broadly concerned with moral issues that arise as part of living in diverse communities, especially in the face of difference and disagreement. My primary aims are threefold. First, to diagnose and explain key moral failures unique to these societal configurations. Second, to provide an empirically informed, moral philosophical account of the sorts of cognitive-emotional skills that are best suited to correcting and preventing such failures. Third, to recommend and justify programs and policies that promote moral education and enhancement through cognitive-emotional skill training, especially in schools. In all of my work, I seek to connect philosophical questions to the real-world issues that give rise to them.

 

Under this umbrella, I am currently developing projects along roughy the following three lines of inquiry:

  • Moral Psychology. What role do cognitive-emotional skills, such as empathy and perspective taking, play in promoting positive bonds between people (especially outgroup members) and under what conditions do they do so? How might these skills facilitate moral perceptiveness and responsiveness? 

  • Practical Ethics and the Philosophy of Education. How can we create sufficiently diverse contexts in which to implement cognitive-emotional skill training, especially given the widespread lack of racial and socio-economic diversity in schools and other widely accessible social institutions? To what extent are training strategies that require non-transparency and various forms of arational influence justified in the name of moral education and enhancement? 

  • Feminist Philosophy. What role does social power play in the uneven development of cognitive-emotional skillfulness across the population, and how might the harms of such uneven development be mitigated? To what extent does offloading tasks that require cognitive-emotional skills onto feminine agents (e.g., feminine human women and feminized AIs) risk de-skilling individuals with respect to those skills, and what are the moral consequences of this?  

Please feel free to reach out to find out more about my current projects in these areas. Drafts of several projects are available upon request. 

Publications:

  • Read, H. (2019). A typology of empathy and its many moral forms. Philosophy Compass, 14(10), e12623.

  • Read, H. (2021). Empathy and common ground. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice.

  • Read, H. (2021). Cognitive-Emotional Skills and Democratic Education: A Purposeful Interaction Approach. Theory and Research in Education, 19(2), 168-184. 

  • Read, H. (forthcoming). Institutionalized Empathy. The Journal of Moral Education

  • Spaulding, S., Svetlova, R., & Read, H. (forthcoming). The nature of empathy, in De Brigard, F. & Sinnott-Armstrong, W. (Eds.), Philosophy of Neuroscience. Cambridge: MIT Press.