Critics Papers

Empathizing with the
 'Against Empathy' 
Articles or papers that are critical of empathy.

For Empathy Response 

Paul Bloom dares not dialogue on camera with anyone knowledgeable about the topic of empathy.

I'm Edwin Rutsch, the director of the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy. Our center is working to make empathy a primary social value. As a leader in this effort, I have also interviewed well over 300 experts on empathy from all fields including education, science, academics, arts, therapy, conflict mediation, interfaith, human-centered design, etc. etc. These interviews are available on our website.

I read the book and all of Paul Bloom's related articles. For 3+ years, since Paul wrote his first Against Empathy article, I've continuously invited him to a recorded on camera dialogue to talk about our contrasting views, but he dares not.

As with all critics of empathy, I enjoy reaching out and empathizing with their views, feelings and experiences, it is how conflict mediation, connection, growth and creativity happen. It also demonstrates the power of empathy. However, Yale professor Paul Bloom dares not dialogue on camera and advocate for his viewpoint. I can understand why, since his premises and arguments are exceedingly flimsy, weak, muddled and only work when talking to people not aware of the nuances and distinctions between empathy, sympathy, reason, compassion, etc. It's easy to set up an empathy straw man and then tear it down with various rationalizations.

With a few simple questions and distinctions, Paul's whole rationale falls apart. At it's core, Paul is attacking sympathy and we actually agree that sympathy has problems. Many people get confused by this important distinction. One of the main problems of sympathy is that it blocks empathy!!!! This is well discussed in the empathy literature and community. I would love to dialogue and show how each of the problems of sympathy is overcome and solved by empathy.

Finally, I do wonder why anyone would buy a book from an author who doesn't seem to have the courage of his convictions. Maybe I'm wrong about all of this, if so, let's have an empathic dialogue and work it out.

cultureofempathy com 

Also wanted to mention that two other empathy experts, Helen Riess, and Lou Agosta, have also offered to take part in an empathy circle with Paul Bloom and he refuses to dialogue with them as well.  So being against empathy seems to be about being against dialogue.

Helen Riess, M.D. 
Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Empathy and Relational Science Program at Massachusetts General Hospital.  Chief Technology Officer of Empathetics.

Lou Agosta
faculty of the Illinois School of Professional Psychology. He practices psychotherapy in Chicago. Author of 3 books on empathy,  Empathy in the Context of Philosophy and A Rumor of Empathy.

More Related Papers at the Empathy Center.

Edwin Rutsch and Paul Bloom Email discussion
"While Paul Bloom is willing to have a discussion in the controlled format of an email conversation, he has refused to take part in direct dialog. I’ve invited Paul for the past three years to have a recorded dialog on Google Hangouts about his criticisms of empathy. When I ask Paul why he will not take part in a dialog, he doesn’t answer.  I have also invited him to take part in an ‘empathy circle’, to have the dialog using empathic listening process that deepens the experience of empathy. I have held other empathy circles with critics of empathy like Jesse Prinz. Jesse was very willing to do an interview, as well as, take part in an empathy circle Book Review:
Why is 'Against Empathy' Bloom, afraid to dialogue with 'For Empathy' Edwin Rutsch?

"As with all critics of empathy, I enjoy reaching out and empathizing with their views, feelings and experiences, it is how conflict mediation, connection, growth and creativity happen. It also demonstrates the power of empathy. However, Yale professor Paul Bloom dares not dialogue on camera and advocate for his viewpoint. I can understand why, since his premises and arguments are exceedingly flimsy, weak, muddled and only work when talking to people not aware of the nuances and distinctions between empathy, sympathy, reason, compassion, etc. It's easy to set up an empathy straw man and then tear it down with various rationalizations."

Response For Empathy
NPR: To the best of our KNOWLEDGE: The Case Against Empathy 
Response For Empathy (Against Empathy) NPR: To the best of our KNOWLEDGE: The Case Against Empathy  | Empathy and Compassion |
"For 3 years, since Paul Bloom wrote his first Against Empathy article, I've continuously invited Paul to a recorded on camera dialogue to talk about our contrasting views. As with all critics of empathy, I enjoy reaching out empathizing with their views and experiences, it is how conflict mediation, connection, growth and creativity happen. However, Paul absolutely refuses to dialogue on camera. I can understand why since his arguments are exceedingly flimsy and only work when talking to people not aware of the nuances and distinctions between empathy, sympathy, compassion, etc. It's easy to set up a straw man and then tear it down."

(Empathy) To Heal the Human Heart,
by Robin Grille
 Feb 08, 2017
(Empathy) To Heal the Human Heart, by Robin Grille | Empathy and Compassion |
"In a You Tube lecture entitled Against Empathy: the Case for Rational Compassion, Paul Bloom argues that if, for instance, his son is anxious and comes to him for help, he would hardly be helpful as a father if he sank into his own anxiety along with him. As the son of an over-concerned Jewish mother, I get what he is talking about! But when we absorb another person’s pain to the point that we have made it our own, we can no longer call that empathy.

Empathy means that you feel pain for another who is in pain, without losing the sense that the pain is in the other’s body, not your own. With empathy, you maintain your own centre, you retain your own good feelings and you don’t make yourself the centre of the issue. When we feel flooded by another person’s emotional experience, that is a sure sign that our own psychological wounding has been activated. Although this ‘flooding’ experience is often confused with true empathy; it is something else altogether. We have been triggered by the other person’s story and emotions come up related to our own past."

Criticisms or Against Empathy

Backstory: The Trouble with Empathy
By Ashley Chang,  
July 8, 2019

"As one of our most beloved companions at the museum, the library, and especially the theater, empathy is hard to shake. But a host of other scholars, scientists, authors, and journalists have also begun to think through its flaws and failures. While the liberatory potential of empathy cannot be denied, it can certainly be overstated, because, as research shows:
It’s voyeuristic: my empathy requires the exposure of your suffering.
It’s invasive: my empathy requires access to your private realm of feeling.
It’s appropriative: your feelings become mine.
It’s narcissistic: my empathy is really just a loose projection of my own feelings onto yours.

Can empathy ever go too far?
The case for 'rational compassion'.
Katherine Baker
 Jul 16 2019

"Empathy is widely regarded as one of life's most important skills, but can it ever go too far? In his 2016 book Against Empathy, Canadian American psychologist and professor of psychology Dr. Paul Bloom makes the case for “rational compassion”, reminding us that empathy has a dark side. Of the possible definitions one could use, the definition Bloom uses here is “imagining the feelings of another and attempting to feel them too”. He argues that imagining someone else’s feelings is probably impossible and even if a person is successful in imagining the misery of another and reproducing it in himself we are only left with the multiplication of debilitating misery. Bloom asserts that reason is a better guide than empathy in most circumstances."

Empathy is on the decline. This may not be as bad as it sounds
 July 26, 2019
Photo: Getty Images
  • confuses sympathy and empathy
  • confuses identification with empathy
  • empathy leads to polarization and side-taking
  • empathy makes us exploitable and puts us in danger of losing our sense of self.
  • Stockholm syndrome
  • Three-Person Model of Empathy 

  • "To be sure, declines in empathy are troubling, considering its major role in cooperation, establishing a culture of caring for others, teaching, mental health, and the reduction of violence. From an evolutionary point of view, empathy makes complex societies possible by allowing us to make deep bonds with others and to share experiences. And those with a lack of empathy live in an impoverished and self-focused world."

Empathy vs. Sympathy: What Is the Difference?And Why You Should Care

Robert Longley
Updated February 26, 2019

"The Dangers of Empathy

Empathy can give purpose to our lives and truly comfort people in distress, but it can also do great harm. While showing an empathetic response to the tragedy and trauma of others can be helpful, it can also, if misdirected, turn us into what Professor James Dawes has called “emotional parasites.”"
  • Empathy Can Lead to Misplaced Anger
  • Empathy Can Drain Your Wallet
  • Empathy Can Harm Relationships
  • Empathy Can Lead to Fatigue

Is Empathy Bad?
03 June 2013
James Dawes
Evil Men
"That’s one worry. Another worry is that the empathy isn’t empathy at all. The feeling for others that we call empathy might often be a thin disguise for narcissism and even voyeurism. "
A glance at social media is telling: Insults, trolling and hatred seem to have become standard. It’s a clear case of not enough empathy, right? Not necessarily - more like too much.

The dark side of empathy

Mackenzie-Wölfe, Kanadische Wölfe | Canis lupus occidentalis (picture-alliance/imageBroker/M. Weber)
"Breithaupt defines empathy as "experiencing with another". Empathy means the capacity to cognitively as well as emotionall empathize with what is going on in another person. But this does not necessarily result in social and moral action."

The Case Against Empathizing With Trump Supporters
Empathy isn’t the solution to our political crisis. It’s a major cause.
Noah Berlatsky
  • "The first serious problem with empathy is that it is biased. Empathy is often presented as a way to overcome insularity or partisanship (that is, “seeing the other side”). But in practice, empathy more often simply reinforces in-group prejudices, because people find it much easier to identify with those who are like them or on their side."
  • "Trump supporters don’t necessarily lack empathy; they just reserve that empathy for their own in-group. "
  • “Empathy likes to travel up the social hierarchy.”
  •  "empathy “is often directed towards the most powerful people rather than to those who might be more vulnerable and more deserving of empathic treatment.”"

The Dark Sides of Empathy
Fritz Breithaupt
Many consider empathy to be the basis of moral action. However, the ability to empathize with others is also a prerequisite for deliberate acts of humiliation and cruelty. In The Dark Sides of Empathy, Fritz Breithaupt contends that people often commit atrocities not out of a failure of empathy but rather as a direct consequence of over-identification and a desire to increase empathy. Even well-meaning compassion can have many unintended consequences, such as intensifying conflicts or exploiting others.

The Dark Side Of Empathy You Rarely Notice And Must Always Be Cautious Of
By Elizabeth Williams
"Empathy is a gift, there’s no discussion there. It’s a gift that allows you to look through the other person’s eyes and walk a mile in their shoes. This ability allows you to understand the emotional motives behind every of their actions and empathize with the state they are in. In other words, it means that you will always be able to understand what is happening to the other person and accept their behavior for what it is. It’s because you know that many of the things people do, they do them because of some underlying emotions they can’t control."

Is Empathy Good or Bad? A Conversation with Paul Bloom
Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda
"Yale Professor Paul Bloom doesn't think empathy is such a good thing. He's even written a book about it called, The Case Against Empathy. However, he does have an interesting theory about what he calls rational compassion. Paul and Alan Alda discuss their views for and against empathy and find out that they have more in common than they thought."

Against EmpathyWhy Design Thinking Demands More
September 14, 2015
by Augusta Meill

There are other ingredients that should enrich the conversation about design thinking that are not fully represented in this human-centered approach.

  • Empathy Is Single-Minded
  • Empathy Lives in the Present
  • Empathy Is Only One Language
  • Design Thinking Culture Can’t Live within an Organization

Against Lynching as a Case “Against Empathy”
June 27, 2018
by Kathryn J. Norlock, Trent University
"When I first heard about Paul Bloom’s book, Against Empathy, I was keen to be persuaded to his view. I knew the bare outline of it and thought it sounded intriguing: Bloom holds that empathy for members of groups subjected to harm can lead to atrocity against other groups. However, it is jarring that he repeatedly uses lynching as an example of an empathy-fed atrocity.

Bloom’s presentation to the Canadian Philosophical Association this month was almost identical to an essay he contributed to The Atlanticin 2015. He is nothing if not consistent. The example of lynching appears there too, although more briefly than in his recent talk."

Empathy as Faux Ethics
January 10, 2017
by THOMAS WENDT, Surrounding Signifiers
adbusters image with text "me, myself, I"

“The term ‘empathy’ has provided a guiding thread for a whole range of fundamentally mistaken theories concerning man’s [sic] relationship to other human beings and to other beings in general.” —Martin Heidegger
"Popular design discourse is full of articles, books, and conference presentations on the role of empathy in design. In both commercial and non-commercial settings, most designers argue the same thing: designers should attempt to build empathy for “users” so they can better design for them. But empathy as it’s generally practiced ultimately subverts its own goals. It tends to reinforce “otherness”, promote anthropocentrism, and ignore ecological considerations."

Psychologists and neuroscientists alike have begun to take a radically different stance on the empathy-is-good line of thinking.
APRIL 12, 201
empathy, why is empathy important, the case against empathy, the problem with empathy
"Empathy—that ability to imagine how another person feels and share an emotional experience along with them—is praised as an ideal of human behavior. After all, one of the alleged hallmarks of a true psychopath is that they can’t feel empathy or don’t come by it naturally. Without empathy, how can we understand what the marginalized and the suffering go through? Social scientists believe that empathy originates, evolutionarily, as a series of “prosocial” behaviors, essential glue that helps humans stick together for increased survival."

  • 1. Empathy can distort your judgement 
  • 2. Empathy can hamper diversity
  • 3. Empathy can be too constricting
  • 4. Empathy can be emotionally draining

"To be an effective leader, many managers are told to be more empathetic, which means understanding and recognizing other's perspectives and feelings. Studies also note that demonstrating empathy enhances employee engagement, boosts work performance and leads to higher job satisfaction.

In their book, "The Mind of a Leader," the authors highlight four ways empathy can lead to poor business decisions and ultimately tank your success: It can distort judgement, hamper diversity, become too narrow and lead to distress.

  • 1. Empathy can distort your judgement
  • 2. Empathy can hamper diversity
  • 3. Empathy can be too constricting
  • 4. Empathy can be emotionally draining"

"In this post I will move away from questions of empathetic bias, and its sometimes questionable ethics, to discuss the difficulty of connecting empathetic feelings to concrete actions for change."

"According to Breithaupt, ‘empathy tends to a self-centred empowerment of the empathizer by granting [them] the privilege of knowing and perhaps controlling the emotion of the other’. In this case the other is not just the object of empathy, but also those they believe do not ascribe to their empathetic world-view. Such thinking in turn leads to a lack of self reflection about the actions and beliefs of the empathizer themselves."

Why Empathy without Emotional Intelligence is Dangerous

"Empathy as an isolated skill in a person who otherwise has a low EQ can be dangerous. Read why."

When Empathy Leads to Burnout – Redefining Real Love 
Sharon Salzberg
Feb 20, 2018
"As humans, we’re wired to feel emotions — our own, but also those of others. Modern neuroscience has actually proven that we’ve evolved to feel empathy: Our brains have specific circuits that enable us to “feel with” others. Seeing someone in pain can cause us pain. Some might call it emotional intelligence, others sensitivity. Terms aside, feeling for others is actually part of our survival. ...

In 2004, a neuroscientist named Tania Singer and her colleagues published an important research study that showed how pain-receptive regions in the brain activate when we feel empathy with someone else’s pain. Since their paper came out, Singer has called empathy a “precursor to compassion,” differentiating these two words we too often use interchangeably."

  • too much empathy can cause us to burn out

The Limits of Empathy (Part One: Selective Empathy)

by Arden Hegele, a literary scholar, and Rishi Goyal, a physician.
(Against Empathy) The Limits of Empathy (Part One: Selective Empathy)   | Empathy Magazine |
"A significant drive behind the disciplines of the Medical Humanities, the practice of Narrative Medicine, and the comics-based field and genre of Graphic Medicine, has been a focus on empathy. These fields have seen a need to emphasise empathy in medical training and practice in order to get away from the often depersonalizing and disciplinary nature of medicine for both the patient and the medical professional. In these fields empathy is seen to have intrinsic moral worth. It helps give voice to the voiceless, improves medical practice, and even helps foster a safe space for medical staff to express their own fears and concerns.

There are those, however, that take a dimmer view of empathy. In a series of blog posts I will apply some of the critiques aimed at empathy and use examples drawn both from fiction and everyday life to illustrate them. One of the most common critiques levelled against empathy is that it is biased. "

Is Empathy Our Most Dangerous and Self-Indulgent Emotion?
by Danny Penman  
(PENMAN 2018) January 31, 2018
"A good example is the way that people misunderstand (and feel) compassion and empathy. Empathy is the sharing of another person’s state of mind and their emotions whereas compassion actively seeks to relieve another’s suffering. Therein lies the crucial difference: compassion is active whereas empathy is passive. Empathy is, in some ways, a necessary precursor to compassion. It provides the motivational force to actually relieve another’s distress. But it can also be a ‘negative’ or even a coercive emotion because it is ethically neutral."

  • compassion is better
  • empathy is passive
  • can also be a ‘negative'
  • a coercive emotion
  • a torturer uses empathy to be a better torturer
  •  empathy alone can be quite dangerous (and arguably a little self-indulgent). 
  • empathy carries with it a slight tinge of entertainment or even voyeurism
  • empathy can drag us into wars
  • making world’s problems worse with empathy. 

Paul Bloom, Yale University psychology professor, argues against empathy
By Sarah Frazer
JANUARY 28, 2018
"In addressing the objection he hears about empathy always being a force for good, even an imperfect one, Bloom asserted that empathy “is used as a catalyst for anger.” Specifically, he referenced President’s Trump’s telling people to “look at YouTube videos” of downtrodden Syrians to justify an attack he wanted to conduct in the war-torn nation. Indeed, Bloom noted, “the more empathy you have as a trait, the more punitive you are in your actions,” according to one study."

Against Empathy: Common Hour Speaker Promotes the Case for Rational Compassion

1/25/2018 KATIE E. MACHEN

"Bloom gave his talk, “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion,” at Franklin & Marshall College’s Jan. 25 Common Hour, a community discussion conducted every Thursday classes are in session. A distinguished scientist and award-winning author with an international reputation, Bloom has published more than 100 articles in top scientific journals.

In his talk, he discussed the danger of putting ourselves in other people’s shoes, explaining empathy can be exclusive and can lead to impulsive decisions. Rather, Bloom argues that actions be made with rational compassion, concern, kindness, love, and morality."

4 questions for Paul Bloom
In a new book, Bloom argues that empathy leads us astray when we rely on it to make moral decisions
By Lea Winerman
May 2017,

Empathy Is Overrated – And It Can Actually Prolong Suffering
Paul Bloom
"Yale psychologist Paul Bloom’s latest book is called Against Empathy, which doesn’t leave you guessing where he stands. Bloom argues that empathy is doing us damage – there is a place for it, but not so high up on society’s pedestal. Empathy can cloud our decision-making, and bring us too close to problems that require action rather than commiserations. Realizing that begs the question: in a world with less empathy, how do we connect and help our fellow humans? Bloom is banking on compassion, and makes a distinction between the two that transcends semantics: empathy is feeling what other people feel, imagining their predicament, echoing their emotional state.

Compassion is more rational: you hear the other person’s predicament but you don’t feel their emotion – this frees you up to understand it, and to make headway on a solution. Bloom likens it to seeing a doctor or a therapist. Do you want them to feel and echo your pain or anxiety, or would prefer that they do something about it? If empathy is as overrated as Bloom suggests, then compassion may be the better way to show you care. Paul Bloom is the author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion."

Empathy Can Be Hazardous to Your Health, Finds Study

October 2, 2017
Article Image
"Feeling empathetic towards the suffering of others, be it just a friend going through a bad time or hurricane victims, is an essential part of what makes us human. But empathy can also be hazardous to your health, according to a new study.

The research, led by Anneke E. K. Buffone from the University of Pennsylvania, found that when we step into the perspective of the suffering person, we can have a physiological response that could be affecting our own health negatively. But reflecting on how the pained person might feel might lead to a response that actually improves health.  

“This is the first time we have physical evidence that putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is potentially harmful,” 
said Buffone."

Our obsession with empathy is flawed
by Julian Baggini  - October 30th 2017

"Listen to received wisdom about how we can become better, more ethical people and you would think moral philosophers were out of a job. The secret of goodness and the key to a better world has nothing to do with principles or arguments. It is simply a matter of empathy. When anything is wrong, the problem seems to be a lack of empathy, the solution more of it. Barack Obama described the “empathy deficit” as a greater political problem than the budget deficit, while the psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has argued that it is the cause of evil and cruelty. "

Actually, We Don’t Need More Empathy
Leading psychologist Daniel Goleman explains why empathy alone rarely leads to action–and proposes a simple meditation exercise to change that.

“We need more empathy” has become a common refrain in and outside the business world, and it’s no wonder why. With diversity and inclusion efforts lurching fitfully forward, and America’s political divisions spilling into seemingly all aspects of public life, walking a mile or three in others’ shoes just seems like a smart, and urgent, idea. But it may not be enough"

Why being empathetic may hurt your career more than help it
Shana Lebowitz
tin man
"If you're planning to climb the corporate hierarchy, you may need to place a limit on how much you feel for others. Experts say too much empathy can hurt your success in business, and examples abound of execs who made decisions that benefitted the company but may have hurt their employees or their friends."

(Against Empathy):  The Case for Rational Compassion | Aspen Ideas Festival | Empathy and Compassion |
"Most people think the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it. Drawing on research into psychopathy, criminal behavior, charitable giving, cognitive neuroscience, and Buddhist meditation practices, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom argues that this is mistaken. "

Empathy makes us immoral, says a Yale psychologist
Olivia Goldhill
July 09, 2017

"Empathy, in general, has an excellent reputation. But leads us to make terrible decisions, according to Paul Bloom, psychology professor at Yale and author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. In fact, he argues, we would be far more moral if we had no empathy at all."

Aspen Untucked: The Fault of Empathy
What's so wrong with empathy? As it turns out, there's a lot.
Barbara Platts
June 29, 2017

"In our society, we seem to have a mantra we stick to pretty strongly. We believe that in order to understand someone, we must walk a mile in their shoes. But what if this weren't the case. What if putting ourselves into the exact situation as someone else, in hopes of understanding them, wasn't only an inconvenience, but a particularly bad thing to do? This is the argument that psychologist Paul Bloom brings up in his recent book "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion." In this book, and in numerous lectures and interviews he's given this year — most recently at the Aspen Ideas Festival — he shows that empathy is a horrible guide for morality."

Could empathy do us more harm than good?
Today, it is taken as given that empathy is a driving force for good. But is reason a more useful and compassionate approach?
by Kenan Malik

“The biggest problem we have in our society and in the world right now,” Barack Obama suggested before he became US President, “is an empathy deficit.” It is a view that has become almost unquestioned, indeed almost unquestionable. “Behind every progressive policy,” the American academic George Lakoff suggests, “is a single moral value: empathy.” For the psychologist Simon Baron Cohen, at the root of evil lies “empathy erosion”.

Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University, will have none of it. “When some people think of empathy,” he writes in his recent book Against Empathy: the Case for Rational Compassion, “they think of kindness. I think of war.” "

Neuroscience explains why.
Tara Well Ph.D.   Mar 04, 2017

"The idea that there can actually be too much empathy can be traced back to early Buddhist teachings. Instead of focusing on empathy to the point of draining ourselves emotionally, Buddhism teaches the practice of compassion, called karuna. This is the idea of sharing in suffering, having concern for another, but essentially “feeling for and not feeling with the other.”"

Empathy is for the long haul – think about it
Empathy sways us towards the needs of the one rather than the many
Des O'Neil 
Empathy – the act of feeling what you believe other people feel – may cloud our moral reasoning. Photograph: iStock
"A powerful critique of empathy arises from a recent book by Paul Bloom, an American psychologist – His use of a quote from Leslie Jamison’s insightful The Empathy Exams provides a foretaste for what is to come: “empathy is always perched precariously between gift and invasion”, neatly balanced by Martha Nussbaum’s dictum that: “human beings are above all reasoning beings”."

May 5, 2017 -

"But empathy is something else. Researchers studying the brain can actually see how the various centers controlling certain feelings light up when we observe or imagine the experiences of others. “If you feel bad for someone who is bored, that’s sympathy,” writes Yale psychologist Paul Bloom in his brave and brilliant new book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, “but if you feel bored, that’s empathy.”

How empathy can make the world a worse place
by Catherine Woulfe 
 24 April, 2017
Photo/Getty Images/Illustration
"Giving the child cash would make you feel good, he agrees, and it is definitely what your empathy is telling you to do. But begging is big business. Chances are your money would go straight to the gang that maimed and starved this child in the first place – and encourage them to do it again.

It’s a lesson that applies to every moral decision, Bloom argues – from politics to the justice system, parenting, medicine and foreign affairs: give in to the “gut wrench” of empathy and you make the world worse."

Empathy's Unintended Consequences
March 27, 2017

"When you choose to broaden your ambit of concern and empathize with the plight of others," then-senator Barack Obama told a standing-room-only crowd in 2006 at Xavier University's commencement, "whether they are close friends or distant strangers—it becomes harder not to act, harder not to help." Empathy has become, in many precincts of 21st-century America, both the preferred tool for moral reasoning and a paramount value in its own right. But in this well-reasoned tract, Paul Bloom punctures empathy's seeming invulnerability by outlining its serious flaws, arguing instead for the use of compassionate but rational judgment in reaching ethical decisions.

Is empathy overrated?
Paul Bloom
Mar 24, 2017

"While it may result in tremendous good, empathy can also be narrow, biased and surprisingly insensitive, argues psychology professor Paul Bloom.

Does empathy make the world a better place? It certainly looks like it. After all, empathy drives people to treat others’ suffering as if it were their own, which then motivates action to make the suffering go away. I see the bullied teenager and might be tempted initially to join in with his tormentors, out of sadism or boredom or a desire to dominate or be popular, but then I empathize — I feel his pain, I feel what it’s like to be bullied — so I don’t add to his suffering. Maybe I even rise to his defense. Empathy is like a spotlight directing attention and aid to where it’s needed

The case against empathy
Sean Illing 
Mar 19, 2017


"Why this Yale psychologist thinks you should be compassionate, not empathetic.Who can be against empathy? If our moral intuitions align on anything, is it not on the idea that empathy for other human beings is a good thing? What harm could come from identifying with the thoughts and feelings of our fellow creatures?"

Why One Yale Psychologist Is Optimistic about the Future:  

Paul Bloom
March 15, 2017

"For once, an optimistic worldview is the one sparking controversy. Paul Bloom thinks humans are not prisoners to their emotions, but have great capacity for rationality and reason. This makes him an anomaly among his fellow psychologists, and philosophers and neuroscientists, who often argue that we’re fundamentally and profoundly irrational. Paul Bloom is the author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion."

In Defense of Empathy
Is empathy a force for good or evil?
Paul Thagard
Mar 10, 2017

In Defense of Empathy | Empathy and Compassion |

"Empathy is a hot topic in psychology, philosophy, and public life, with many recommendations that moral behavior can be improved if people are more empathic and appreciate the feelings of others. Shockingly, Paul Bloom’s new book Against Empathy argues that empathy is not only overrated but actually harmful to morality. Although I think that empathy ultimately does contribute to ethics, Bloom makes some important points about its nature and value."

Against Empathy & Einfühlung
March 5, 2017

"Bloom argues, rightly I believe, that empathy can be a trickster. It causes us to focus on a specific injustice or outrage and as a result empathy sidelines reason. It is different than compassion for, among other reasons, the compassionate thing is often to resist what your empathetic instincts tell you. Every parent understands this. When our kids suffer we feel the pain acutely, but that doesn’t mean that the suffering can’t be for their long term benefit."

Are Babies Racist? Is Empathy Bad for Society? And More with Dr. Paul Bloom
FEBRUARY 23, 2017

In this episode we start with a dive into evolutionary psychology and how biases have been programmed into you by millions of years of evolution, look at why our guest condemns the concept of Empathy, how the science demonstrates that empathy has no correlation with doing good in the world, how empathy creates disastrous outcomes, and more with our guest Dr. Paul Bloom Dr. Paul Bloom is a Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University and received his PhD from MIT. Paul is the coeditor of the journal Behavior and Brain Sciences and author of several books including Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, and most recently Against Empathy: The Case For Rational Compassion. "

Empathy for Trump voters? No, thanks.
Understanding? Yes.
 by Paul Bloom
 Feb 23, 2017

"I side with the empathy bashers. This may not be a surprise, given that I just wrote a book called Against Empathy, exploring the dark side of this aspect of our natures. I focus on emotional empathy — the act of experiencing the world as you believe others do. This can be a force for good — it can act as a spotlight, drawing our attention to those in pain — but it has serious design flaws when it comes to moral judgment. It is biased, tribal, and innumerate; it favors the close over the far, the one over the many. It leads to shortsighted and unfair decisions that make the world worse."

February 21, 2017

"Yale psychologist Paul Bloom suggests a bit of reason in your feeling in his new book, Against EmpathyEmpathy seems to be a quality you can never overdo. It’s like a megavitamin of emotionally relating: the more you display, the better a human you are. Yet just like vitamins, argues Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom in his new book, Against Empathy, too much is too much.''"

Think empathy makes the world a better place? Think again …
Paul Bloom
18 February 2017  -

Your first inclination may be to reach into your pocket, but that may be what the gangleaders putting children on the streets prey on.

"It is often said the rich don’t make enough effort to appreciate what it is like to be poor and if they did we would have more equality and social justice. It’s said that whites don’t have enough empathy for blacks and that men don’t have enough empathy for women. There are many who maintain that if certain politicians had more empathy, they wouldn’t be endorsing such rotten policies. I used to believe this as well.

 Empathy has its merits. It can be a great source of pleasure, involved in art, fiction and sports. And it can be a valuable aspect of intimate relationships. But it’s a poor moral guide. It grounds foolish judgments and often motivates indifference and cruelty. It can lead to irrational and unfair political decisions. It makes the world worse."

The Lie of Human Empathy.
Adam Selene
Feb 17, 2017 /

"When questioned about what sort of morality or what overarching concerns should guide humanity, the credulous liberal will often boldly pronounce "Empathy" as the solution with the sort of glib breathlessness common to plebeians regurgitating some nugget of stupidity they feel is especially compelling. By appealing to a vague combination of sympathy and pity, the leftist has now dazzled you with his severance of the Gordian Knot in a single stroke of Kumbaya and compassion. Still unconvinced? Then you need to research mirror neurons or *seriously contemplate the possibility that you are in fact a psychopath, which is an obsolete way to tell someone that you think they are a bad person with poor morals."

AGAINST empathy? Really?
FEBRUARY 13, 2017

“In the moral domain…empathy leads us astray,” argues Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale University. “We are much better off if we give up on empathy and become rational deliberators motivated by compassion and care for others.” Bloom adopts a provocative stance to focus attention on what we in IB Theory of Knowledge would call “ways of knowing”, and ties emotion, imagination, and reason to ethics as an area of knowledge.

We are overdosing on empathy

Gaby Hinsliff
18 February 2017

Illustration by Robert G Fresson

"So when I started reading the American psychologist Paul Bloom’s new book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, it was mainly in the hope of picking holes. But instead it picked something of a hole in me. The politics of empathy sells itself less on what politicians can do, than on how much they’re like the voter His basic argument is that empathy – defined not just as warm, fuzzy feelings but the ability to feel someone else’s pain, to suffer when they suffer even if you are not personally afflicted – simply isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Far from making us better or kinder people it actually clouds moral judgement, encourages bias, enfeebles parents (how do you make kids do their homework, or get painful vaccinations, if you can’t stand seeing them suffer?) and can get in the way of professionals doing their job."

Why Empathy is Dangerous
By Georgie Rea
Feb 17 2017

"It is precisely this battle between the emotional and rational self that is explored in Paul Bloom’s Against Empathy. The main crux of the Professor’s argument is the sad truth that empathy is biased and selfish. Paradoxically this truth is the redeeming aspect of his bookWithout an understanding of this truth it would be all too easy to join the masses of twitter warriors (let us call them twits) and criticise Bloom for being cruel or sociopathic. This truth is backed up by empirical evidence, Science being the armour of any compelling argument in the 21st century. Bloom describes how “laboratory studies have been done showing we feel more empathy for people who are attractive” and more appallingly, people of the same race as oneself."

A Rational Gut Check
"A Yale psychologist offers a passionate account of the negative effects of passion but ends up with a more temperate conclusion."
By Benjamin Soskis  
Spring 2017 - Stanford Social Innovation Review 

"A number of charities have started to use virtual reality technology as a fundraising tool. After donning a VR head-set that instantly transports them to a refugee camp in Lebanon, donors may be more inclined to contribute to humanitarian organizations supporting refugees. But Paul Bloom, a Yale University psychologist, is not impressed with what is being called an “empathy machine.” As he recently told NPR, empathy is “fatiguing. It leads to burnout. … The best therapists, the best doctors, the best philanthropists are people who don’t feel the suffering of others.”

The Difference between Empathy and Compassion and Why It Matters
By Paul Bloom

"Paul Bloom takes a look at the current research on empathy and compassion and why it matters for issues such as burnout and resilience. 

You are likely familiar with the idea that you can feel too much of the suffering of others. This is sometimes called “burnout,” a word that was coined in the 1970s. But it’s not a new insight; the idea has many origins, including, to my surprise, in Buddhist theology."

AGAINST empathy? Really?
FEBRUARY 13, 2017

"Bloom’s strategy for communication, though, does seem to work. The whiff of controversy attracts media attention and gives him a forum for putting into popular discussion some ideas truly worth considering – ideas fully relevant to TOK and to the larger IB goals of engaging our students to care about the world and act effectively within it."

February 14, 2017 - 

"It seems cruel to question the usefulness of empathy in such a dark time as today, when the US President is denouncing entire populations and threatening to bring back torture, while Britain has closed its borders and its heart to child refugees. But this is exactly the moment when rigour is most important. The answer to injustice is not more feeling. It is more toughness."


"A closer look at the empathy literature suggests otherwise. In his book, Bloom argues that too much empathy, which he defines as “feeling the feelings of other people,” can be paralyzing. Rather than engage in political or other direct-action solutions to address suffering and injustice, subjects who experience the suffering of another might end up looking away and avoiding the problem completely."

Why Empathy Is Dangerous
Yale psychologist Professor Paul Bloom tells us why empathy can lead to war, manipulation and "stupid decisions".
Feb 6 2017,

"VICE: It must be fun putting a book out with a title like yours that takes people aback. Against Empathy seems confrontational to many because they think of empathy as being the same as kindness or compassion.

Paul Bloom: Exactly. I have been getting hate mail and weird tweets from people thinking I am arguing for psychopathy or for cruelty, or that I am against kindness. I try in the book's subtitle, "The Case for Rational Compassion", to make it clearer. People mean different things when they say empathy. Sometimes people use it as a synonym for kindness and goodness, and I am not against those things. The sense of empathy I am against is feeling other people's pain, putting oneself in their shoes. Empathy in this sense is biased; it's innumerate; it can be weaponised. It makes us worse people. So I think we should make our moral decisions without empathy, through rational deliberation. "

Empathy is crucial to being a good person, right? Think again
Feb 7,  2017
Some argue that, far from motivating pro-social behaviours, empathy can push us towards inaction at best and racism and violence at worst

Empathy can motivate generous behaviour and is a valuable aspect of relationships. But is it a good moral guide?

"Why do we flinch when we see someone hit their thumb with a hammer? Our intuitive tendency to feel what we imagine another person is feeling is called ‘emotional empathy’. Empathy is, among other things, believed to improve our personal relationships, motivate charitable giving and encourage pro-social behaviours. The general consensus is that empathy is crucial to being a good person.

But empathy is not without its discontents. In his latest book, Against Empathy , Paul Bloom argues that empathy is actually a very poor moral guide. He compiles evidence from a range of sources to show that empathy can be innumerate, biased, parochial and inconsistent and can push us towards inaction at best and racism and violence at worst."

Against Empathy by Paul Bloom; The Empathy Instinct by Peter Bazalgette 
Salley Vickers
6 February 2017
Is empathy the bedrock of morality? Two new studies suggest there is confusion around its meaning – and its usefulness in creating a more caring society

O’Brien (Richard Burton) tortures Winston Smith (John Hurt) in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

"When people asked psychology professor Paul Bloom what new project he was working on, he would reply “empathy” – adding the rider that he was “against” it. This, he was to discover, was like “being against kittens, a view considered so outlandish that it can’t be serious”. The remark sets the tone for his latest book. Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion is a deliberately maverick work – astringent, provocative, often witty and unabashedly against a prevailing culture that places so high a premium on the virtue of empathy that at least 1,500 books available through Amazon apparently have a version of the word in their title."

Understanding Weaponized Empathy

"The one comes via WRSA. Bottom line: weaponized empathy is the primary tactic that the statist-left uses to advance its cause. What is Weaponized Empathy? It is the deliberate hijacking of your own moral standards, your ability to empathize with your fellow man, in order to force you to serve someone else’s narrative. It is, in essence, a highly sophisticated form of guilt-tripping designed to turn you into a slave."

Trump lacks empathy, but empathetic presidents got us nowhere
1/26/17  ( n)

This same quality that sometimes hurts may be just what the country needs. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

"In his book Against Empathy, researcher Paul Bloom makes the case that empathy is an "irrational emotion" that "muddles our judgment." He notes that some of the worst decisions made by individuals and nations are often motivated by "honest, yet misplaced, emotions." Empathy distorts our judgment, he says. Without it, our decisions would be "clearer, fairer, and ultimately more moral." Last week, we had a president who prided himself on feeling everyone's pain, on being an empathetic president. Where did it get us? Exactly."

More empathy isn’t the right prescription to heal our planet
By Paul Bloom
26 January 2017 -  ( n)

More empathy isn’t the right prescription to heal our planet | Empathy and Compassion |

"I just wrote a book called Against Empathy, and some of my friends tell me they are embarrassed to read it in public. Isn’t empathy something only a psychopath would object to? Many see empathy as an unquestionable force for good; it makes the world a better place. It has been said that evil is nothing more than “empathy erosion”, and there are calls for people to express greater empathy in everyday life, and to teach children to empathise more in school."

The case for compassion, not empathy
Jan 28th 2017
(pro empathy response)  (x)
The case for compassion, not empathy | Empathy and Compassion |
"A moral psychologist decries a culture of identifying with others at the expense of reason
Jan 28th 2017. In an age of partisan divides it has become popular to assert that the wounds of the world would heal if only people made the effort to empathise more with each other. If only white police officers imagined how it feels to be a black man in America; if only black Americans understood the fears of the man in uniform; if only Europeans opposed to immigration walked a mile in the shoes of a Syrian refugee; if only tree-hugging liberals knew the suffering of the working class."

Surely empathy’s a good thing?
Douglas Murray - 28 January 2017
(pro empathy response (x)
Surely empathy’s a good thing? | Empathy and Compassion |
"Being against empathy sounds like being against flowers or sparrows. Surely empathy is a good thing? Isn’t one of the main problems with the world that there isn’t enough of the stuff going around? Paul Bloom of Yale University is here to argue otherwise. As he explains, while empathy can be a good thing in certain circumstances, in general it is a poor moral guide. ‘It grounds foolish judgments and often motivates indifference and cruelty.’"

How empathy hurts us
Krys Boyd 
Jan 25, 2017   (x)

"Paul Bloom documents how our reliance on relating to how other people feel can lead to bad outcomes in exactly the places we assume we need empathy most: in medicine, philanthropy and even in close relationships. His tantalizingly-titled new book is called Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion."

What’s the Matter with Empathy?
By Sara H. Konrath
January 24, 2017  -  (x)

"At a time when “empathy” is more controversial than ever, a researcher explains what it is, what it isn’t, and when it fosters kindness and compassion. Many of us see this as a good thing, because we see empathy as morally good. If asked, we would say that we want empathic spouses, children, friends, teachers, doctors, and bosses. And that we want to be empathic people ourselves. That is precisely why a recent book by Paul Bloom, with the provocative title Against Empathy, would catch our attention."

NPR: To the best of our KNOWLEDGE : The Case Against Empathy  (x)
"If people were more empathetic, the world would be a better place, don’t you think? If people learned how to be more aware of, more sensitive to the suffering and pain of others, they’d be kinder and gentler, treating others with more compassion. Or maybe they’d just burn themselves out. Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom recently startled a lot of people by coming out with an argument against empathy."

Painful truths: psychologists unpick the ethics of empathy
by: Julian Baggini
JANUARY 20, 2017
Why putting yourself in others’ shoes can sometimes be a poor moral guide (n)
Painful truths: psychologists unpick the ethics of empathy | Empathy and Compassion |
"Love is so last century. What the world needs now, the only thing that there’s just too little of, is empathy. Empathy is widely touted as the key to effective management, good government, better medical care, improved wellbeing, higher-achieving schools, excellent parenting, even world peace."

The case against empathy
by Sean Illing
Jan 19, 2017, (n)

"Who can be against empathy? If our moral intuitions align on anything, is it not on the idea that empathy for other human beings is a good thing? What harm could come from identifying with the thoughts and feelings of our fellow creatures?"

The limits of empathy
Diana Kwon on when walking in another’s shoes is not enough.
January 2017, (n)

"Snapshots of the horrifying aftermath of terrorist attacks, refugees fleeing their war-torn homes, and families mourning a victim of police brutality can be gut-wrenching. Many people consider this ability to understand and feel what others are feeling, or empathy, as a primary source of morality and the glue that holds societies together. President Barack Obama has described empathy as the ‘heart of my moral code’ and has suggested that an empathy deficit is at the heart of many of our society’s problems."

How important is empathy? We may overvalue it
By Paul Bloom
Jan 17, 2017
"Does the ability to share the feelings of another person make us better human beings? Fans of empathy describe it as working like a spotlight, focusing us on specific individuals, driving us to feel as they do, and making us care. This sounds good, but it has its perils. Spotlights illuminate what they’re pointed at, and since we find it natural to empathize with those close to us, decisions driven by empathy tend to be tribal. Spotlights have narrow focus, and so empathy is innumerate, favoring the one over the many, the specific over the statistical. It is because of empathy that we often care more about a baby stuck in a well than about a large-scale crisis such as climate change."

By Matt Purdy
January 17, 2017  - Innovation Hub

"It’s one of those questions every kid who’s ever smacked another kid gets asked by a stern adult: "How would you feel if you got hit?" The correct answer is, “Bad,” of course. But the point isn’t for you to answer. The question is meant to force you to feel that other kid’s pain, to feel empathy."

Too Much Empathy Can Be a Bad Thing
by Jeremy Rosen
 JANUARY 13 -  2017  (x)
Paul Bloom. Photo: Yale.
"So why, I ask, did Simon Baron-Cohen present this anti-Israel narrative? Of course, I thought, here is another example of a Jews eager to burnish their left-Wing credentials. Empathy, in this case, means more than sympathy. It is an assertion of political loyalties and priorities. That, to me, proves that Bloom is right.

I sympathize with suffering; I can want to see suffering assuaged and conflict resolved. But I cannot empathize with a cause that seeks to destroy mine. Although I do not support settlements, when a political argument is supported with violence, I cannot empathize with it, because I am a potential target, too."

Empathy Discussion Response: Jeremy Rosen and Edwin Rutsch

YouTube Video

A Yale Psychologist Says Clinton Supporters Shouldn't Try to Empathize With Trump Fans
Empathy isn't always a good thing, explains Paul Bloom.
JAN. 10, 2017      (x)
"We often think of empathy as a good thing. The ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes and feel their pain makes us more understanding and compassionate. In the aftermath of the divisive presidential election, there's been a call for voters to try to empathize with people who hold opposing views. "

Empathy Is Just another Word for Bias, Says Yale Psychologist
 Paul Bloom

January 8, 2017  (n)

YouTube Video

Yale psychologist Paul Bloom likens empathy to a spotlight, shining down brightly to illuminate an actor on a stage. The analogy brings together two opposed camps: those who feel empathy is essential to making good ethical choices, and those who, like Bloom, feel that empathy is just another word for bias.

The Most Overrated Virtue 
Empathy, Paul Bloom argues in “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion” entrenches our prejudices and is “morally corrosive.” But is reason any more reliable as a moral guide?
Jan. 2, 2017 - Wall Street Journal

Empathy is having a moment. The primatologist Frans de Waal has heralded our time as an “age of empathy,” which he sees as the key ingredient for a kinder, more just society. The linguist-cum-political advocate George Lakoff insists that “behind every progressive policy lies a single moral value: empathy.” And advocating for what he calls “global empathic consciousness,” the social theorist Jeremy Rifkin maintains that only “global empathy” can prevent “global collapse.” Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, will have none of it. ”

Think Again Podcast #79 – Paul Bloom - Cold-Blooded Kindness
December 31, 2016

"Since 2008, Big Think has been sharing big ideas from creative and curious minds. The Think Again podcast takes us out of our comfort zone, surprising our guests and Jason Gots, your host, with unexpected conversation starters from Big Think’s interview archives. Paul Bloom is an internationally recognized expert on the the psychology of child development, social reasoning, and morality, and the author of numerous books including Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil. His newest book is Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion."

The Art of Charm
(Direct Download Episode Here)
Against Empathy (Episode 578)
Rational Compassion (Episode 551)
Paul Bloom | Against Empathy (Episode 578)
"Most of us are taught from an early age that empathy is an important part of being a “good” person. But Paul Bloom, developmental psychologist and author of Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, rejoins us at The Art of Charm to talk about why we should take a deeper, logical look at the notion of empathy so we don’t misdefine and misapply it in ways that do us — and others — more harm than good. This may seem infuriatingly negative at first glance, but trust us — it will all make sense as you listen to the episode. Enjoy!"

Empathy Is Good, Right? A New Book Says We’re Better Off Without It
DEC. 30, 2016 -
Empathy Is Good, Right? A New Book Says We’re Better Off Without It | Empathy and Compassion |
"His first argument against empathy is that he believes it is “biased, pushing us in the direction of parochialism and racism.” He writes, “It’s easy for people like me to empathize with the children and teachers and parents of Newtown: They’re so much like those I know and love. Teenage black kids in Chicago, not so much.” While some people may find it more straightforward to feel empathy for people in their family or their in-group, that’s not a limitation of empathy per se, but probably just reflects whom we are most familiar with. For me, that’s a reason to build more empathy for those outside our in-group, not a reason to take a strong stand against it.

FORUM: Against Empathy - PAUL BLOOM
September 10, 2014
"When asked what I am working on, I often say I am writing a book about empathy. People tend to smile and nod, and then I add, “I’m against it.” This usually gets an uncomfortable laugh."

Bloom - Zaki Debate
Does Empathy Guide or Hinder Moral Action?'

Jamil Zaki, an assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University, is the lab director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory and founder of The People's Science.

Paul Bloom, the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University,

DECEMBER 29, 2016 - NY Times

"After a year of surprising election results and referendums, and violence in protests, terrorism and war, the term “empathy” has been cited by many as a key component to helping groups of people that have little in common, or disagree, come together. But does empathy actually increase the ability of opposing parties to understand each other better, or otherwise inform correct moral action?"

Paul Bloom published an opinion piece: 

Then Jamil Zaki's letter (mentioned above, dated 12/29/2016): 

And then Paul's letter (dated 12/24/2016): 

I Don’t Feel Your Pain: Why We Need More Morality and Less Empathy

Maria Konnikova and Paul Bloom

“Feeling other people’s pain, feeling their suffering… I think it leads to biased decisions, to irrational, short sighted actions and tone.”

"Maria Konnikova is the New York Times bestselling author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, and a contributor for The New Yorker, where she writes a column on psychology and culture.

Paul Bloom is a professor of psychology at Yale University and the author of How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like, Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, and most recently, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Paul and Maria recently got on the phone for a Heleo Conversation in defense of not feeling others’ pain."

Waking Up With Sam Harris

YouTube Video

"In this episode of the Waking Up podcast, Sam Harris speaks with Paul Bloom about empathy, meditation studies, morality, AI, Westworld, Donald Trump, free will, rationality, conspiracy thinking, and other topics."
  • death of one and death of many

When Empathy Just Doesn't Work
David Pakman Show
Dec 24, 2016

YouTube Video

Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology at Yale University, joins David to discuss his new book "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion"

  • Definitions of Empathy: Feeling the feelings of others. Often feeling their pain and suffering.
    • Bad way to live or lives. leads to mistakes; political, personal, become worse people,
  • Rational Compassion: Figuring out what to do on an appreciation of costs versus benefits. Moral principles.
  • Compassion is the motivator. Compassion is caring about other people. But you don't need to feel their suffering, just by loving them. That's a better moral force.
  • Selective Empathy.
    Empathy is by it's nature selective.  It's hard to feel empathy for your enemy. It's easier to feel empathy for friends, attractive people,  same race, 
  • Empathy is Biased.
    Arguments for violence is based on empathy.
  • For Utilitarianism.  
  • 1. Story of Student who hasn't done homework.
    Parent loves kid but doesn't freek out with their kid. Doesn't' share the stress of the child. They are anxious, you are calm. They are  sad and your cheerful. They don't want to do something, you make them do it.
  • 2. Story of Therapist.
    You're talking with a Therapist and you're very depressed and sad.  You want your therapist to understand you, care about you, not get depressed and sad.
  • 3. Story: First Responder.
    A firefighter or cop. If you are tremendously empathic to the suffering of other people. You will burn out very quickly.  The problem is I feel peoples suffering to much.
  • Education? How does empathy distort education?  Teachers have to understand what the student knows.  You need emotional distance. Example, students want a higher grade and be upset. I feel their pain but that wouldn't be right or fairness to others. Empathy is self absorbed, your into your own feelings.

Do we really need empathy?
By  Neda Semnani
Dec 15, 2016 - The Washington Post
"America, we're told, is suffering from a lack of empathy. In many of his speeches, President Barack Obama has traced our social divisions back to "the biggest deficit we have . . . an empathy deficit." But a new book, "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion," by Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, claims this isn't true at all. Bloom argues that the majority of society's problems - and the problems of our own lives - can be traced to an excess of empathy."

What Are the Downsides of Empathy?
Answer by Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology & Cognitive Science, 
"What are the downsides of empathy? A lot of questions revolve around this issue, so I’ll give this a long answer. If you want an even longer answer, check out my book.

First, people use the term “empathy” in different ways and so I should be clear about my own usage, I’m referring to empathy in the sense of experiencing the feelings of others, particularly others’ suffering. And so when we say “I feel your pain”, we’re talking about empathy in the sense I’m worried about."

Empathy is an overrated skill when dispensing medical care
BY Karin Jongsma: Bioethicist, University Medical Centre of Göttingen
Verena Klar: Student, University of Göttingen
December 22, 2016
doctor with baby
"Over the past few decades, empathy—the ability to take on the perspective, or “feel” the emotions, of another person—has been touted as a key clinical skill, and a cornerstone of the doctor-patient relationship. Communication with and trust in the doctor hinges on this quality, research suggests, right along with patient satisfaction and clinical outcome of the treatment itself. Many physicians are now trained to be empathetic, but still struggle with showing empathy all day, every day.

 After all, physicians are only human, prone to exhaustion and stress, and simply not empathetic all the time. The proposed solution is simple: fake it till you make it; even if you don’t feel empathetic with your patient, you should at least give the impression that you are. But why do we deem a treatment incomplete without it, when empathy is neither easily employable nor a miracle cure?"

Why Empathy Is Bad
Dec 21 2016,  
"In a new book, a professor argues that empathy can fuel prejudice, tribalism, and violence. He says it also assisted Donald Trump's rise.Empathy is usually touted as a virtue, the root of kindness and charity, a way to transcend our selfishness. A Christmas Carol is largely about developing a sense of empathy; the 1984 hit "Do They Know It's Christmas" reminds us to think of starving African children while we're enjoying the holidays. But to Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom, empathy is responsible for much of what's cruel, biased, and unfair in human society."

Would the World Be Better Off without Empathy?
By Jill Suttie  - 
December 8, 2016
"Paul Bloom’s controversial book Against Empathy mixes valid points with misguided critiques
Some weeks ago, I sat down in my local coffee shop to begin reading Paul Bloom’s Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. A man sitting at a nearby table pointed to my book with a look of incredulity and said, “What’s that about? Sounds awful.” I’m sure others may have the same reaction based on the title alone. But Bloom’s book is a bit more nuanced than his title suggests. Looking through years of research on empathy, he has come to the conclusion that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. “From a moral standpoint, we’re better off without it,” he writes."

The Empathy Trap
DEC 12, 2016
by Peter Singer

"To answer that question, we might ask another: For whom should we have empathy?

As Donald Trump prepares to succeed Obama, analysts are suggesting that Hillary Clinton lost last month’s election because she lacked empathy with white Americans, particularly Rust Belt voters yearning for the days when the US was a manufacturing powerhouse. The problem is that empathy for American workers is in tension with empathy for workers in Mexico and China, who would be even worse off without jobs than their American counterparts are."

Paul Bloom: Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
Dec 19, 2016 - Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

YouTube Video

"We often think that empathy, our capacity "to feel someone's pain," is the ultimate source of goodness. Nothing could be farther from the truth, argues psychology professor Paul Bloom. Scientific studies show that empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that can cloud people's judgement and even lead to violence and cruelty."

Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
 DECEMBER 14, 2016

JOANNE MYERS: I'm Joanne Myers, director of Public Affairs programs. On behalf of the Carnegie Council, I'd like to thank you all for beginning your day with us.

Our speaker is Paul Bloom, the Brooks and Suzanne Ragen Professor of Psychology at Yale University. He will be discussing his recently published book entitled Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassionwhich has been causing quite a stir.

In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in the idea that empathy is central to moral judgment and motivation. While most would agree that the importance of humans to feel with and for others is hard to deny, some have argued that researchers should focus their attention elsewhere—and that is exactly what our speaker has done."

The Urban Monk – A Case Against Empathy with Guest Paul Bloom
 Dec 12, 2016 - The Urban Monk 

YouTube Video

"How can we be good people? What determines that? One indicator many people look at is the ability to empathize with others. The ability to look at the pain and suffering of others and enact change is looked upon as a great moral compass for humanity. But what if our ability to empathize is actually hindering society on a grand scale? 

Today on The Urban Monk, Paul Bloom, Yale researcher and author of "Against Empathy," argues that empathy is one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. How can empathy muddle our judgement? How does it actually create more prejudices that people might not notice upon first glance? How can we live a progressive life of compassion for others?"

YouTube Video

Joshua Teperowski Monrad '20 interviews Professor Paul Bloom on the topic of empathy. Professor Bloom argues that the psychological mechanism has its limitations and explains how it sometimes can be downright harmful.

by Paul Bloom

 December 6, 2016

"We often think of our capacity to experience the suffering of others as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy-makers, activists, scientists, and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. In AGAINST EMPATHY, Bloom reveals empathy to be one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices. It muddles our judgment and, ironically, often leads to cruelty. We are at our best when we are smart enough not to rely on it, but to draw instead upon a more distanced compassion."

Against Empathy: Why Emotion-Based Politics Lead to Inaction (Video)
By Paul Bloom
Dec 18, 2016 - 
"The title of Paul Bloom's latest book may ruffle a few feathers; it's called Against Empathy. Empathy has come into its own of late, held on a pedestal as one of the most glorified emotional skills – but Bloom argues that at times it can cloud our judgement.

 When it comes to political debates, typically the debate isn’t all over whether or not to empathize, it’s over who to empathize with, he says. There are some political issues, such as climate change and free speech, in which empathy favors one side of the issue, and encourages inaction over action."

  • Liberals are slightly more empathic on tests than conservatives.
  • Liberal politics is associated with empathy
  • Conservative politics is associated with reason, selfishness, greed
  • question is who to empathize with.
    • Liberals empathize with black teenagers, shooting victim from lax gun laws, woman, beneficiary of affirmative action, 
    • Conservatives  empathize with police, rape victim because has no gun, fetus, white kid who doesn't get into college, 
  • we want to know statistics - how many people are suffering, how many better or worse off?
  • Empathy favors one side of the issue - ie, climate change. There is no-one to empathize with who will be affected by climate change. Empathy argues for inaction. Right policy argues for action.
  • Free speech, empathy is on the side of the sensor. can't say something that will offend someone.

How ’empathy’ became a weapon we use against others
By Britt Peterson / The Washington Post
Thursday, December 15th, 2016 
"Over this past election season, however, the concept of empathy has become rather more complicated. Despite coming from an extremely different background from the white working-class voters who made up his base, Donald Trump connected with them on a gut level while displaying little empathy for anyone else. Trump tugged on the strings of his supporters’ empathy for highly effective rhetorical purpose.

This weaponization of empathy has led to a flurry of questions about whether the concept is still the universal good we all once assumed. As Yale psychologist Paul Bloom writes in his recent book “Against Empathy,” the sentiment focuses us on concrete examples rather than the abstract needs. "

Obama preaches empathy; Trump projects it
by Kyle Smith (sent invitation to author to dialog.)
December 10, 2016 -
Obama preaches empathy; Trump projects it | Empathy and Compassion |
"As a guide to living, this attitude is mistaken. Far from being the spark for doing good, empathy is a kind of moral short circuit that damages our ability to make rational choices.  Empathy can be racist, thrill-based, corrosive, hostile to facts and logic, with an alarming tendency to cruelty and violence. “On balance, empathy is a negative,” Yale psychologist Paul Bloom puts it in his cleverly contrarian book “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion.” “It’s sugary soda, tempting and delicious and bad for us"

Empathy and Its Discontents
by Paul Bloom  (sent invitation to author to dialog.)
December 02, 2016
Empathy and Its Discontents | Empathy and Compassion |
"What role does the experience of feeling what you think others are feeling – often known as ‘empathy’ – have in moral deliberation and moral action? Empathy has many fans and there is abundant evidence that it can motivate prosocial behavior. However, empathy is narrow in its focus, rendering it innumerate and subject to bias. It can motivate cruelty and aggression and lead to burnout and exhaustion. Compassion is distinct from empathy in its neural instantiation and its behavioral consequences and is a better prod to moral action, particularly in the modern world we live in."

Against empathy
Robert Wright & Paul Bloom [The Wright Show] (full conversation)
Dec 6, 2016

YouTube Video

00:11 Paul’s brand new book, Against Empathy
05:51 The damage empathy can do
13:01 The difference between empathy and compassion
25:18 Why our moral intuitions aren’t so moral
29:44 Are low empathy people more likely to hurt others?
43:52 Empathy as moral jet fuel
51:23 The costs and benefits of feeling other people’s pain

The Limits of Empathy: Why the Burden of Empathy Shouldn’t Rest on the Oppressed
By Christopher Persaud
"I am deeply troubled by our usage of empathy in this moment. For me, empathy is an active process where one works to understand the experiences and feelings of another.
  • But when we talk about empathy, we are really talking about power. With whom are we encouraged to empathize?
  • How do we decide who is worthy of empathy?


I am alarmed at all the ways in which empathy has been weaponized. In its wake, we see countless demands for the oppressed to be superhuman all while white supremacy is left to play the victim. It has been a dark kind of amusing to be told that above all else, I should be more empathetic in our age of President(-Elect) Trump."


Paul Bloom on why VR empathy projects won’t save the world: Empathy is all too easy to exploit
by Angela Chen
Dec 6, 2016 - 
Paul Bloom on why VR empathy projects won’t save the world: Empathy is all too easy to exploit | Empathy and Compassion |
"Can we save the world through empathy? For the past year, that idea has been a source of public debate as people try to figure out who deserves empathy, who doesn’t, and how to cultivate more of it to solve our problems.

Technology has been a key part of this conversation. Virtual reality proponents have long seen the potential of their work to do good, whether it’s using Oculus Rift to understand homelessness or trying to Kickstart an “empathy-increasing device to end avoidable violence.”

Review: ‘Against Empathy,’ or the Right Way to Feel Someone’s Pain
DEC. 6, 2016 - Books of The Time
Review: ‘Against Empathy,’ or the Right Way to Feel Someone’s Pain | Empathy and Compassion |

"Paul Bloom’s new book, “Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion,” is too highbrow to be a self-help or parenting manual, but parts of it could be. Its wingspan is too wide to be a simple guide to philanthropy, but parts of it could be that as well. And it’s a bit too clotted with caveats to be a seamless read, which is a shame, because it could have been, with more shaping. Look past the book’s occasional loop-the-loops and intellectual fillips. “Against Empathy” is an invigorating, relevant and often very funny re-evaluation of empathy, one of our culture’s most ubiquitous sacred cows, which in Mr. Bloom’s view should be gently led to the abattoir."

The Downsides of Empathy 
December 4, 2016
The Downsides of Empathy | Empathy and Compassion |
"Although empathy could solve many of the world’s problems – including many issues that show up in the workplace – it has its limits and it has its downsides. Steve contends a lack of empathy characterized both sides of the recent presidential election. But empathy can also lead to burnout, indecisiveness, and a misdirected moral compass."

The Perils of Empathy

by Paul Bloom  
December 2 -
The Perils of Empathy | Empathy and Compassion |
"Everywhere you turn in American politics, leaders talk about the need for empathy. The best-known instance, of course, comes from Bill Clinton, who told an AIDS activist in 1992, “I feel your pain.” But it’s also been a recurrent theme in the career of Barack Obama, who declared in 2007 (while still a senator) that “the biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit....

I don’t deny the lure of empathy. It is often irresistible to try to feel the world as others feel it, to vicariously experience their suffering, to listen to our hearts. It really does seem like a gift, one that enhances the life of the giver.

The alternative—careful reasoning mixed with a more distant compassion—seems cold and unfeeling. The main thing to be said in its favor is that it makes the world a better place."


Empathy, Schmempathy
By Tom Bartlett
NOVEMBER 27, 2016  -
"No one argues in favor of empathy. That’s because no one needs to: Empathy is an unalloyed good, like sunshine or cake or free valet parking. Instead we bemoan lack of empathy and nod our heads at the notion that, if only we could feel the pain of our fellow man, then everything would be OK and humanity could, at long last, join hands together in song. Bah, says Paul Bloom. In his new book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion (Ecco), Bloom argues that when it comes to helping one another, our emotions too often spoil everything. Instead of leading us to make smart decisions about how best to use our limited resources altruistically, they cause us to focus on what makes us feel good in the moment."

The Limits of Empathy
by Adam Waytz 
"A few years ago, Ford Motor Company started asking its (mostly male) engineers to wear the Empathy Belly, a simulator that allows them to experience symptoms of pregnancy firsthand—the back pain, the bladder pressure, the 30 or so pounds of extra weight. They can even feel “movements” that mimic fetal kicking. The idea is to get them to understand the ergonomic challenges that pregnant women face when driving, such as limited reach, shifts in posture and center of gravity, and general bodily awkwardness.
  • Problem #1: It’s exhausting...
  • Problem #2: It’s zero-sum....
  • Problem #3: It can erode ethics....
  • How to Rein In Excessive Empathy..."