The Limits of Empathy

In the May 20, 2013, issue of The New Yorker, Yale psychologist Paul Bloom agreed with my point. In reviewing a spate of recent books advocating the importance of empathy, Bloom concludes that empathy can only get us so far. He points out that empathy works to move us out of ourselves, but its range is quite limited. We can often feel empathy for specific individuals who have suffered terribly – such as James “Bim” Costello whose picture showing him staggering from the Boston Marathon bomb site was plastered in newspapers and the web.

But it’s a lot harder to feel empathy for nameless victims who are only reported in the news media as statistics.  This is why Bloom rejects empathy as an adequate grounds for morality.