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Riana Betzler

Teaching Associate

Riana Betzler is a Teaching Associate in philosophy of science. She is interested in a variety of issues in the philosophy of cognitive science, medicine, and biology. Her current research focuses on social cognition and, in particular, empathy. Her work aims to understand how conceptual diversity – and the confusion that sometimes stems from it – influences the ways in which scientists conduct research on empathy and the potential for application of that research in social, political, and ethical contexts. Lately, she has been studying the field of 'social neuroscience' by looking closely at the definitions and measures of empathy in use there and considering how such neuroscientific work can be integrated with findings from other disciplines. Riana's research is deeply informed by her background in cognitive science and time spent working in labs and conversing with practicing scientists.

A further strand of Riana's work concerns debate about medical communication and the role of the emotions in medical practice. This work intersects with issues in medical ethics and has potentially significant implications for medical education. She hopes to continue with this line of research in the future by pursuing a project on the history and philosophy of the concept of medical empathy.

Riana completed her PhD in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge. Prior to returning to Cambridge as a Teaching Associate, she spent two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research (KLI) in Klosterneuburg, Austria (near Vienna).


Betzler, R. J. (2019). Finding empathy: How neuroscientific measures, evidence, and conceptualizations interact. International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 27(2), 224–243.

Betzler, R. J. (2018). How to clarify the aims of empathy in medicine. Medicine, Healthcare, and Philosophy, 21(4), 569–582.

Betzler, R. J. (2016). Is Statistical Learning a Mechanism? Philosophical Psychology, 29(6), 826–43.

Betzler, R. J. (2016). Review of Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology, ed. H. Sarkissian & J. Cole Wright. Ethics, 126(2), 531–6.

Edwards, B. J., Rottman, B. M., Shankar, M., Betzler, R., Chituc, V., et al. (2014). Do Capuchin Monkeys (Cebus apella) Diagnose Causal Relations in the Absence of a Direct Reward? PLoS ONE, 9(2): e88595.


Riana Betzler