The Claim: Empathy Makes the World Worse

In his recent Atlantic animation, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom once again tries to explain to us why empathy leads us astray and makes us behave immorally.

He defines empathy as putting yourself in the shoes of another person and feeling their suffering. While he acknowledges that empathy is a powerful motivator for action, he also claims that it blinds you to the long-term consequences of your actions….


Put aside for the moment that altruism and empathy are different things, and that altruism is just as likely to be motivated by principles as emotion. According to Bloom, when we act out of empathy, we are behaving selfishly instead of morally because we are just trying to make ourselves feel like we’re good persons.


Dr. Denise Cummins