Hot-cold empathy gaps and the grounds of authenticity

Grace Helton, Christopher Register

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Hot-cold empathy gaps are a pervasive phenomena wherein one’s predictions about others skew ‘in the direction’ of one’s own current visceral states. For instance, when one predicts how hungry someone else is, one’s prediction will tend to reflect one’s own current hunger state. These gaps also obtain intrapersonally, when one attempts to predict what one oneself would do at a different time. In this paper, we do three things: First, we draw on empirical evidence to argue that so-called hot-cold empathy gaps arise when one projects one’s own current state into a simulation about another. Second, we argue that this process does not typically confer knowledge, even when the predictions it produces happen to be accurate. Third, we suggest that these results can be used to develop a challenge for L.A. Paul’s view that authentic action sometimes requires a certain kind of experience-based knowledge of one’s own values and of how these values relate to relevant outcomes. We then sketch an alternative view of the epistemic grounds of authenticity, one on which authenticity requires a kind of understanding. The relevant form of understanding can be achieved by knowledge from first-personal experience but can also be achieved elsewise, such as through testimony from a close friend about what one values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number151
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • General Social Sciences


  • Authenticity
  • Cognitive science
  • Empathy
  • Epistemology
  • Hot-cold empathy gaps
  • Rationality
  • Seductions of clarity
  • Self-knowledge
  • Subjective knowledge
  • Transformative experience
  • Understanding


Dive into the research topics of 'Hot-cold empathy gaps and the grounds of authenticity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this