Empathic design, which is the outcome of embedding the empathic approach in community resilience, will meet all four critical features of any models which are supposed to satisfy both physical resilience and humanistic considerations. It holds that in addition to the technical knowledge, engineers have to care about the humanistic side of the engineering process as well. Empathic design refers to a design in which the designers, as well as the technical specifications, consider the humanistic aspects of the system in virtue of three types of empathy, namely, cognitive, affective, and conative. The empathic design brings about an inclusive and effective community resilience approach that is human-centric, individual and communal sensitive, justice-oriented, and value-based consistent.
1. Empathy: Definition and Characteristics
Empathy in psychology was considered as a research topic of experimental research in the early 20th century, and since then, it has been explored in several major fields of cognitive, developmental, social, and clinical psychology . The new research on empathy as a major part of emotional intelligence in the late 20th century, however, made it a central concept in some significant psychological and psychotherapist research studies. Recently an increasing number of studies have been conducted on the role of empathy in engineering education  and practice .
awareness is a necessary component of empathy, which distinguishes the concept of empathy from emotional contagion. “With empathy, the observer is aware that this feeling is a result of perceiving emotion in the other. With emotional contagion, the emotion is captured, but the observer lacks this awareness, and the observer believes this feeling to be his/her own” . That is, psychological empathy is a result of a self-reflexive reflection and is not just an incident (Notice that there is a semantical similarity between empathy and some other concepts like sympathy and compassion; however, they are not the same. Sympathy has a more emotive meaning and refers to “a vicarious emotional reaction based on the apprehension of another’s emotional state or situation, which involves feelings of sorrow or concern for the other” whereas compassion means “the feeling that arises in witnessing another’s suffering, and that motivates a subsequent desire to help” ).
Cognitive empathy refers to the study of the ability and accuracy of the understanding of other people’s thoughts in different contexts. Empathy, in this sense, is an epistemic tool to help us understand and know what others’ minds are . Some psychologists emphasize the congruency of the observer’s empathic mental state with the mental state of the individuals who are the object of the empathic treatment, while some others deny the possibility of the complete congruency . However, it is intuitive and largely plausible that cognitive empathy is not only available in some deep levels, but also, it is an indispensable part of our everyday life when we are talking or thinking about other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
Conative empathy refers to the study of the practical application of taking supportive actions in response to other people’s feelings and problems. This kind of empathy is a professional and pragmatic concept, which refers to an empathic treatment with the people (like e.g., clients, stakeholders, or patients) in practice . Conative empathy is the most apparent kind of empathy which would be fully objective and observable. It is also a necessary part of some clinical professions like psychologists and psychotherapists who apply it in assisting their patients. Conative empathy is logically preceded by affective and cognitive empathy. Accordingly, a comprehensive definition of empathy is an affective one which is originated from cognitive empathy and leads to a conative one.
1. Empathic Design for Community Resilience
Empathic design leads to an inclusive and effective approach to resilience design which requires to be human-centric,
individual and communal sensitive, justice-oriented, and value-based consistent. These major expectable characteristics of an inclusive model for community resilience enable turning from the pragmatic approach in engineering design to a more fundamentally epistemic one.
. These major expectable characteristics of an inclusive model for community resilience enable turning from the pragmatic approach in engineering design to a more fundamentally epistemic one.
21.1 Being Human-Centric
An effective resilience design would be human-centric in two senses, which both require cognitive empathy. First, community resilience has been recently defined in terms of recovering capability of stakeholders, which are affected by disaster and natural hazards . In fact, the concept refers to returning the capability of those affected humans to their initial capability in the pre-disaster situation. Capability itself is modal philosophical concepts, and more specifically, human capability is a psychological term as such. Therefore, a central part of resilience design would be related to the human side, which is in direct relation with the physical and infrastructural aspects.
This “understanding of the humanistic side” cannot be attained by implementing empirical approaches. This understanding is not limited to the physiological needs of the individuals; it is rather more relevant to subjective psychological and anthropological needs, other minds’ feelings and experiences. Empathy as a “non-inferential and non-theoretical method of grasping the content of other minds became closely associated with the concept of understanding” . Put in other words, cognitive empathy, as opposed to other empirical tools like experiments, has unique features that make a bridge between human subjective feelings, inferences, and interpretations about the outward world. So, a human-centric approach for designing resilient systems requires subjective epistemic tools like cognitive empathy.
21.2 Being Both Individual-Sensitive and Communal-Sensitive
Community resilience requires the recovery of the system’s performance. It is broadly supposed that the engineering system resilience has to be considered at the community level. Recent studies have suggested that community resilience should consider the specific needs of individuals because the performance of a community is the function of its individuals . However, community resilience is not simply a one-to-one function of its individuals’ resilience; rather, there is another concept as communal resilience as well. Thus, the relation between the community and individuals should be explored to realize the resilience feature of a system. The collection and interaction among the individuals sometimes cause the emergence of some patterns at the community level, which cannot be seen just by looking at the individual level. Thus, an inclusive and efficient approach for designing resilient systems requires considering both individual and communal resilience, which both need different levels and kinds of empathy.
From a sociological point of view, there are two major theories on the semantic of the community proposed by Weber and Durkheim. Weber focuses more on individual autonomy in constructing the features of a society. Weberians believe that a community is a function of its individuals . Durkheimians, on the contrary, propose that the features of a society are not equal to the one-to-one features of its individuals. A society is more than a simple aggregation of its individuals. He points out “social facts” as the distinguishing features of a society which are not reducible to individual-level facts . For example, in a soccer team, the team’s performance is not equal to the collection of each player’s performance individually. The interaction among the team members plays a critical role in the final performance of the team in addition to their individual functions.
21.3 Being Justice-Oriented
Community resilience is committed to bringing about human well-being, which refers to the well-being of each and all human individuals irrespective of their gender, sex, race, education, financial status, etc. Studies in vulnerability assessment of the communities have revealed that the socially vulnerable population experience higher hardship from natural hazards . This has been shown to be rooted in individuals’ higher exposure to the threats and their lower ability to tolerate the negative impacts . The social inequities in the societal impacts of natural hazards suggest that current approaches have failed to meet the needs of the affected communities . This highlights the importance of incorporating justice in designing resilient infrastructure systems. Therefore, an engineering system would be resilient only if it aims at justice and equally considers each and all individuals.
Given that community resilience requires each and all individuals to be helped, there could be three approaches to the necessity of such a humanistic consideration. First, according to Virtue ethics, community resilience has to be humanistic because helping other people comes from the human virtue of being benevolent and compassionate (i.e., referring to an agent’s subjective moral character) . Second, Kantian Ethics holds that we must help others because it is a universal moral rule, no matter what the characteristics of the agent are or what the consequence of the act could be . Third, utilitarians believe that it is essential that each and all individuals are considered and assisted in a natural hazard because it ultimately maximizes the well-being of the community .
All these approaches highlight empathy in community resilience. The first two accounts lead to the Golden Rule, which says, “Others are to be treated by me as we would wish them to treat me” . This, in turn, leads to conative empathy, which refers to the empathetic treatment of people based on cognitive and affective empathy. They both require human beings to think of other people like themselves, either as virtuous or as a moral duty. Moreover, the last utilitarian account also requires people to treat others fairly and empathetically without considering the actions as a kind of human virtuous or as a moral duty. According to utilitarianism, we need to treat others as we wished to be treated, empathetically, because it finally guarantees our ultimate interests in a social system. It holds that an engineering system would be effectively resilient in the long term, only if it really cares about justice. In other words, equity between individuals ultimately maximizes well-being for all the individuals, including those who are not affected too much by the disasters .
21.4 Being Values-Based Consistent
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