Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University, recently wrote a thought provoking (and emotion provoking) post on Boston Review, entitled, Against Empathy?.
He writes about the downside of relying on empathy, particularly “emotional empathy”, as a guide to action. Emotional empathy, he argues, is biased, clouds our thinking, and promotes moral errors, which may have dire consequences. He writes:
“Empathy is biased; we are more prone to feel empathy for attractive people and for those who look like us or share our ethnic or national background. And empathy is narrow; it connects us to particular individuals, real or imagined, but is insensitive to numerical differences and statistical data.