Short works

Books : reviews

Paul Bloom.
Against Empathy: the case for rational compassion.
Vintage. 2016

We think of empathy as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy-makers, activists, scientists and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don't have enough of it.

Nothing could be further from the truth, argues Paul Bloom. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices. It muddles our judgement and, ironically, often leads to cruelty. Brilliantly argued, urgent and humane, Against Empathy shows us that, when it comes to both major policy decisions and the choices we make in our everyday lives, limiting our impulse towards empathy is often the most compassionate choice we can make.