Empathy moves us, but it may move us to make an unethical decision. Conversely, says Bloom, dehumanization is not the ultimate evil we typically assume it to be. Bloom's latest book is "Against Empathy" (https://goo.gl/RdVl6W).
Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/paul-bloom-on-dehumanization-and-empathy
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Transcript - So we have all sorts of biases to favor our own group over others. Some of these biases I think are morally respectable. I’m not embarrassed that I love my children more than I love other children. Or love my wife more than I love other people. But others are less respectable. We have biases about skin color, about national origin, about even sports teams where these things may seem kind of arbitrary and not very important. But they play a huge role in our lives. We’re hugely biased creatures. We’re naturally carve the world into in group and out group. I do some research on babies and I would argue that this in group, out group distinction comes naturally to us. That you could see it in babies before their first birthday. Even if empathy were to be stripped from our heads. If you were to take a pill that would blot out your empathy you’d still be biased. You’d still favor yours over another group. There are many sources of bias. It seems to be wired into all of our emotions, all of our decision making. But empathy is particularly vulnerable to bias. I use the analogy of it as a spotlight and, in fact, many of the fans of empathy use that analogy as well because it captures the apparent good that empathy can do. It zooms you in and makes you care.
But a spotlight only illuminates a small area and a spotlight only illuminates where you point it. And so empathy is exquisitely subject to bias because our bias tells us where the spotlight is pointed to. I could try to do a rational cost benefit analysis and I can do a pretty good shot at being unbiased and fair adding up the people who suffer from the people who benefit figuring out a solution. But once empathy comes into the mix bias is inevitable. And so empathy making decisions based on empathy exaggerates our in group, out group bias. It brings it to the fore and makes it very hard to override. Read Full Transcript Here: https://goo.gl/0Iw09a.
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