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Society

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 216–217 | Cite as

Paul Bloom: Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion

New York: Ecco HarperCollins, 2016, 285 pp. $26.99. ISBN: 978-0062339331
  • David L. Ryan
Book Review

Empathy, in almost all forms of human interaction, is an ability to which many virtues are attributed. Indeed, virtually no human endeavor is seen NOT to be enhanced by empathy and there is hardly anyone who would seriously argue against it. Paul Bloom is one who would.

In a refreshing and rather counter-intuitive but evidence based argument, he challenges the notion of empathy as a moral virtue and makes a convincing case for viewing empathy as just another human attribute rather than the literal equivalent of goodness. For example, if empathy as we understand it, is the capacity to feel another’s emotions and feelings (albeit to an attenuated degree) and act morally as a result, how is it that we would pay taxes, refrain from cutting in line or refrain from littering? These actions involve no empathy in the specific sense and, depending on the circumstances, little to no punishment if not done yet most of us have the moral sense to act in the common good.

Therefore, moral behavior...

Keywords

Bloom Empathy Elections Morality Amoral attribute Public policy Spotlight effect Dalai Lama Nationalism Racism Zero-sum 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature  2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Ryan
    • 1
  1. 1.Las VegasUSA

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