chapter  6
33 Pages

Empathic Thought: Responding Morally to Difference

Irene Opdyke, a Polish woman who hid 18 Jews from the Nazis during World War II and when they were discovered became a Nazi officer's mistress in exchange for their safety, explains her heroic altruism in modest terms: "We all have to reach out to know that we're not alone in the world" (Block and Drucker, 1992, 196). I find her remark deeply poignant and also highly suggestive for moral philosophy. Opdyke expresses an approach to moral relations that strikes me as eminently propitious with respect to resolving the dilemma of difference, yet the major traditional ethical theories cannot easily accommodate her counsel.