Call For CommentatorS 

The Society for Philosophy of Emotion (SPE) will be hosting a book symposium for Dr. Heidi L. Mailbom's new book, The Space Between: How Empathy Really Works, during the 2024 Central American Philosophical Association (APA) conference. Invited commentators will also be invited to submit their commentary, with any necessary revisions after the APA session, to the Journal of Philosophy of Emotion (JPE) for an expected publication in the winter 2024 issue, contingent on the JPE's double anonymous review process. We are looking for commentators who are interested in engaging in a critical discussion of The Space Between, with the aim of moving the discourse on relevant topics that are highlighted by her book forward. If you are interested in being a commentator, please email, with information about your interest, along with a copy of your CV, by August 20, 2023. Invited commentators will be contacted by August 27, 2023, with the decision regarding their expressed interest and any further details. We encourage a diversity of scholars of all ranks who are interested in participating as a commentator to respond to this CFP, provided that they are willing and able to commit to fulfilling the expectations of set by the JPE's submission guidelines and our double-anonymous peer review process. Commentators will also be selected not only based in their qualifications, but also based on considerations for the value of diversity and inclusiveness. Please note that commentators will be selected not only based on their qualifications, but also based on considerations for the value of diversity and inclusiveness among qualified commentators; and a scholar's qualification will be judged based on the quality of the commentaries submitted. Potential contributors are also welcome to let us know in their letter of interest that they would be willing to referee the composed book symposium if for some reason they were not invited to contribute a commentary, but would still like to contribute to the book symposium.

Abstract: When Barack Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court, his comments that a judge should have "the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it's like to be poor or African-American or gay, disabled, or old" caused a furor. Objective, reasoned, and impartial judgment were to be replaced by partiality, sentiment, and bias, critics feared. This concern about empathy has since been voiced not just by conservative critics, but by academics and public figures. In The Space Between, Heidi Maibom combines results from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to argue that rather than making us more biased or partial, empathy makes us more impartial and more objective.

The problem is that we don't see the world objectively in the first place, Maibom explains. We see it in terms of how we are placed in it: as an extension of our interests, capabilities, and relationships. This is a perspective and it determines what we pay attention to, how we interpret events, and what matters to us individually. It is not private, however. By means of the imagination, Maibom contends, we can place ourselves in another person's web interests, capabilities, and relationships and, viewing the world from there, experience a new way of interpreting and valuing what happens. This broadens and deepens our understanding of others and the world around us. It also helps us understand the greater reality of who we are ourselves.

Maibom's book weaves together results from philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience to provide a positive up-to-date view of what it really means to take another person's perspective, and how empathy, rather than being the enemy of objectivity, is the foundation of it.

Author Bio: Heidi L. Maibom received her Cand Phil from University of Copenhagen in 1994 and her PhD from University of London in 2000. She was a Postdoc in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology program at Washington University in St. Louis 2001-2003, and Assistant/Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Cognitive Science and Department of Philosophy at Carleton University 2003-2013. She has been Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati since 2014. In 2021, she became Ikerbasque Research Professor & Distinguished Professor at ILCLI at the University of the Basque Country. She has held fellowships at Cambridge University and Princeton University.

Each commentator will receive a free digital copy of The Space Between, and your participation as a commentator would include a 20 minute critical commentary on The Space Between, and a response to your commentary by Dr. Maibom. After the book symposium is presented at the 2024 Central APA, participants will be asked make any necessary revisions in light of what they learned during the 2024 Central APA session and to submit their finalized commentary for double-anonymous peer review to the Journal of Philosophy of Emotion (JPE). Commentators are also asked to ensure that any revisions include making their commentary suitable for publication in a journal versus a presentation at a conference session, including adhering to the JPE's submission and style guidelines. 
If you agree to be a commentator, we ask that you provide a critical commentary from the perspective of your area of expertise, and that your commentary helps contribute to furthering at least one relevant topic of concern that is brought out in The Space Between. Your commentary should be approximately 3,000 words in length, and we will leave the length of the author’s response up to Dr. Maibom to decide. We ask that you have your comments to Dr. Maibom and the SPE ( at least two months before the date of the book symposium. Please also note that the word limit is a guideline, and one of the most important factors to ensure that the book symposium passes the peer-review process is the clarity and accuracy of its contents. 
Furthermore, in order to participate as a commentator, you would also have to become a member of the SPE by the time of the book symposium at the APA conference, and to make sure to register for the 2024 Central APA conference; yet your SPE membership will also include a manuscript submission fee waiver from the JPE, which you would be able to use when submitting your commentary for peer review and possible publication. Please note that the JPE is an independently published, open access journal and SPE membership fees and JPE manuscript submission fees all go toward paying for operating costs and providing need based subventions to facilitate diverse and inclusive participation. Our completely transparent Financial Report is also made available for your review.
Finally, participants of the book symposium at the 2024 Central APA will also be invited to organize a group meal with Dr. Maibom to take place either before or after the APA session. Please notify the the SPE if you are interested in doing so.