Article ID: CBB596910880

Epistemological discipline in animal behavior studies: Konrad Lorenz and Daniel Lehrman on intuition and empathy (2023)


Can empathy be a tool for obtaining scientific knowledge or is it incompatible with the detached objectivity that is often seen as the ideal in scientific inquiry? This paper examines the views of Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz and American comparative psychologist Daniel Lehrman on the role of intuition and empathy in the study of animal behavior. It situates those views within the larger project of establishing ethology as an objective science. Lehrman challenged Lorenz and Niko Tinbergen, the main founders of this field, to clarify their epistemological positions regarding how to deal with the subjectivity of the animals they studied as well as the scientist’s own subjectivity. I argue that there was a tension between their desire to eliminate the subjectivities of ethological researchers (and of their subjects) and the public perception that Lorenz had a remarkable ability to enter into the lives of the animals he studied. I explain why Lorenz rejected empathy as valid in scientific inquiry, showing that his epistemological position was grounded in his ideal of science and his proposed ontology for ethology. Yet, Lehrman insisted that full detachment was neither possible nor desirable.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Book Vicedo, Marga; (2013)
The Nature and Nurture of Love: From Imprinting to Attachment in Cold War America (/isis/citation/CBB001213142/)

Article Munz, Tania; (2011)
“My Goose Child Martina” (/isis/citation/CBB001220835/)

Article Anna Klassen; (2021)
Methodological Signatures in Early Ethology: The Problem of Animal Subjectivity (/isis/citation/CBB504631735/)

Book Burkhardt, Richard W., Jr.; (2005)
Patterns of Behavior: Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and the Founding of Ethology (/isis/citation/CBB000550823/)

Chapter Burkhardt, Richard W., Jr.; (2011)
Ethology's Traveling Facts (/isis/citation/CBB001000230/)

Article Brigandt, Ingo; (2005)
The Instinct Concept of the Early Konrad Lorenz (/isis/citation/CBB000670734/)

Article Browne, Derek; (2005-2006)
Konrad Lorenz on Instinct and Phylogenetic Information (/isis/citation/CBB000931938/)

Article Gorokhovskaia, E. A.; (2002)
Zhizn' v sovetskom plenu i dve versii “Russkoi rukopisi” Konrada Lorentsa (/isis/citation/CBB000203004/)

Article Bowler, Peter J.; (2000)
Philosophy, Instinct, Intuition: What Motivates the Scientist in Search of a Theory? (/isis/citation/CBB000110752/)

Book Kruuk, Hans; (2003)
Niko's Nature: The Life of Niko Tinbergen and His Science of Animal Behaviour (/isis/citation/CBB000501254/)

Book Taschwer, Klaus; Föger, Benedikt; (2003)
Konrad Lorenz: Biographie (/isis/citation/CBB000600688/)

Article Erika Lorraine Milam; (2022)
Landscapes of Time: Building Long-Term Perspectives in Animal Behavior (/isis/citation/CBB785867437/)

Article Sophia Gräfe; Cora Stuhrmann; (2022)
Histories of Ethology: Methods, Sites, and Dynamics of an Unbound Discipline (/isis/citation/CBB985454871/)

Thesis Kelle Dhein; (2021)
The Meaning of Meaning in Insect Navigation Research (/isis/citation/CBB695035980/)

Article Gillaspy, James Arthur, Jr.; Brinegar, Jennifer L.; Bailey, Robert E.; (2014)
Operant Psychology Makes a Splash---In Marine Mammal Training (1955--1965) (/isis/citation/CBB001420017/)

Authors & Contributors
Taschwer, Klaus
Burckhardt, Richard W., Jr.
Munz, Tania
Bowler, Peter J.
Gorokhovskaia, E. A.
Tinbergen, Niko
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Biology and Philosophy
VIET: Voprosy Istorii Estestvoznaniia i Tekhniki
Journal of the History of Biology
Rutherford Journal: The New Zealand Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Annals of the History and Philosophy of Biology
University of Chicago Press
Oxford University Press
Franco Angeli
Princeton University
Arizona State University
Animal behavior
Animal psychology
Lorenz, Konrad
Tinbergen, Nikolaas
Frisch, Karl von
Harlow, Harry Frederick
Ainsworth, Mary Dinsmore Salter
Bowlby, John
Time Periods
20th century
20th century, early
21st century
United States
Soviet Union
Florida (U.S.)
Sea World, San Diego

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment