Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On Empathy

Short comment, pretty simple: As far as empathy goes in law, the Republicans state that empathy eviscerates impartiality.

Merriam Webster defines empathy so:

the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

If you think about it in those terms, then obviously, short of rendering yourself entirely ignorant of both cases being made and recusing yourself from any matter faintly related to your own experience, you can't be impartial unless you consider both sides of the story, both arguments, without bias. Considering the perspective of both sides is critical to quality judgments, especially when the law asks questions whose criteria involve fairness, equity, and equality.

After all, with Brown vs. the Board of Education, the critical point is whether Separate is Equal. Some White guy who doesn't have to go to the back of the bus might see it that way, but another person may argue, indeed, that the very act of separating a person out based on appearance or racial ancestry constitutes unequal treatment. If you only consider an argument from one side, how can you call yourself impartial?

No comments: