Can compassion be taught?

Academic Article


  • Socrates (in the Meno) denied that virtues like courage could be taught, whereas Protagoras defended this claim. Compassion is discussed below in this context; it is distinguished from related, but different, moral qualities, and the role of imagination is emphasised. 'Sympathy's and role-modelling views of compassion's acquisition are criticised. Compassion can indeed be taught, but neither by the example of a few, isolated physicians nor by creation of Departments of Compassion. In replying to one standard objection to teaching compassion, it is emphasised that scientific competence and compassion aren't mutually exclusive.
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    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Pence GE
  • Start Page

  • 189
  • End Page

  • 191
  • Volume

  • 9
  • Issue

  • 4