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date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses two domains of research into and theorizing about human emotions of interest to legal theorists and practitioners in the law. Written by a non-lawyer with expertise in English literature, narrative theory, and interdisciplinary empathy studies, it offers basic definitions of the terms “empathy” and “affect,” brief overviews of research areas, suggestions about the relevance of affect and empathy studies to law, and cautions about those applications’ limitations and liabilities. By no means prescriptive in intention, this chapter’s discussion of affect and empathy studies lays bare some of the underlying assumptions and critical attitudes of work in differing fields. All varieties of empathy, with their affordances and limitations, are resources for the rhetorical arts of persuasion. Writers and practitioners in the law should alertly consider the roles that empathy and affect play in the law, especially when legal abstractions, doctrines, and documents that evoke strong feelings are accorded the imaginative status of persons by means of Einfühlung.

Keywords: altruism, Affect, Einfühlung, Emotion, Empathy, Intersubjectivity, Persuasion, Reception, rhetoric

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