A conceptual framework for empathy and its application to investigate nonhuman animals
Do nonhuman animals (hereafter “animals”) possess empathy and if so to which degree? Can we develop a conceptual framework that allows us to characterize similarities and differences between implementations of empathy in humans and animals? We aim to answer these questions in two steps. First, we develop a new conceptual framework by distinguishing different levels of empathy starting with paradigmatic cases of human empathy developing in human ontogeny. Second, we describe in detail which of these levels of empathy can be found in other species based on animal studies. This approach allows a detailed characterization of the relation of empathy in humans and other animals.