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On Empathy and Politics

As the Holiday Season draws near, let's reexamine the role of "empathy" in our lives and society. In particular, we'll focus the discussion on how "empathy" conflicts (or enhances) the public policy priorities, as well as our current state of politics.

The discussion will primarily be based on Prof. Paul Bloom's book, entitled "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion." This thought-proving book provides a refreshing perspective on "empathy" -- especially when it comes to both major policy decisions and the choices we make in our everyday lives.

Here's the central question: is limiting our impulse toward empathy, perhaps the most compassionate choice that we can make?

To that end, we'll examine the following topics:

• Is empathy the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society?

• Is empathy a product of a capricious and irrational emotions that appeals to our narrow prejudices?

• Are important public policy decisions — such as budgetary priorities, the criminal justice system, foreign relations, the use of military force, and how to respond to climate change — are too often motivated by honest, yet misplaced, emotions?

• How does empathy distort our judgment in every aspect of our lives, from philanthropy and charity to the justice system; from medical care and education to parenting and marriage?