Humans can show signs of emotional contagion or impersonation to another being in pain. Although with the lack of a clear distinction between oneself and the other, together with self-awareness, that cannot be said to be empathy in a stringent sense. 'Empathy' is critical in human's lives since it aids in their understanding of other people's pains; thus, one can appropriately react to the situation. Empathy is also typically linked to social behavior, and more compassion can lead to moral deeds; therefore, being able to empathize with other people appears to be a good thing, more so a moral inclination.
Role Played by Empathy on Morality According to Boom's View
When asked to decide between two regions only differentiated by the presence of empathy among beings, most people would more likely go for the world where compassion exists. Moreover, even as Bloom (2017) contends, humans ought to deliberate on empathy's role for people's moral and social life and its influence on moral judgement and pro-social motivation. As he states, "being a bad person has more to do with a lack of regard for others and an inability to control one's appetites" (Bloom, 2017, par.42).
Even though Bloom argues that there is a significant connection between morals and an empathetic emotion, he refutes the idea of a link between their specific moral motives and feelings. For instance, "our policies are improved when we appreciate that a hundred deaths are worse than one, even if we know the name of the one, and when we acknowledge that the life of someone in a faraway country is worth as much as the life a neighbor" (Bloom, 2017, par.10). According to Bloom, the phrase "I feel your pain", as commonly used, is literal and not just a metaphor. Emotional empathy makes one feel a lesser degree of what another person experiences. Hence, another person's pain indeed activates the same brain region as one's pain, creating a neural communication between other and self. From this, empathy guides humans to treat others as they treat themselves, expanding compassion to others. Compassion in social dilemmas could thus make people neglect the utilitarian norm of the highest good for the most considerable number. However, it might be because of the pity that one experiences that have the role of inspiring them to act according to various moral standards, including the ones on the provision of resources to the needy.
Comparing and Contrasting Paul Bloom's and Johnathan Bennett's View
Although, that is not always the case. In contrast to Bloom, Bennet (1974) claims that empathy could as well result in amoral conduct or hinder social actions. For instance, Bennet argues that compassion does not intrinsically strengthen the human motivation for behaving morally. Instead, he believes that "harnessing the motivational impact of humanity for morals needs more adaptation" (Bennet, 1974). For instance, individuals who do well with reading other people's emotions, including psychics, fortune-tellers, or manipulators, can similarly use their empathetic prowess in manipulating others for their benefit.
Unlike Bennet, Bloom knows the biases and limitations of human's natural empathetic abilities. However, looking at the positive influences of empathizing with those in pain in the real world, Bennet also perceives empathy as the 'cement of society' whose power ought to be bound for society's advantage. For instance, "Huck Finn regards slavery as a normal form of ownership and suffers from guilt when he does not turn in his friend Jim, a slave whom he helps to escape" (Bennet, 1974, p.131). From Huck's example, as presented by Bennet, one can argue that, apart from leading Huck off track, his empathy and sympathy instead play an appreciated epistemic part in leading him towards the right actions. The case additionally implies a significant responsibility for empathetic feelings; they might habitually work as possible educative devices, which progressively allow humans to identify the moral standards that they need to sanction. On the other hand, Bloom holds that exercising empathy could stimulate kindness that would otherwise not be there. Thus, from the author's argument, it is clear that interpreting moral motivation or morality in exceedingly narrow positions comes with several disturbing repercussions.
My Point of View
Thus far, both Bloom and Bennet are relatively cautious and restrained in ascertaining a connection between morality and empathy. Bloom particularly does not appear to be viewing compassion as morality's only foundation or the primary motivator for moral conduct, because he claims that the opportunity of our rational ability to empathize with others is narrow. For that reason, I strongly argue in favor of Bloom's views. I believe the strength of us feeling pain when others suffer, is only natural if the perceived individual is similar or related to us in different ways, even though there have been several reflective practices suggesting how people can conceive empathy as the core of human morality. My view is that emotions, particularly empathy, take a more sophisticated role in harms norms than most philosophers lead us to consider. Our empathetic brains have progressed to adapt to various settings.
I believe being empathetic towards others is quite vital since it helps us in understanding others and be able to offer help. Empathy could guarantee that as humans, we care about a prisoner, homeless person, or a slave. We could empathize with those members from minority groups or one suffering from religious persecution, and these experiences could make one a better person. The rising levels in empathy motivated by one's ability to - put himself in another's shoes - and imagine the violent and painful punishments (rape, mutilation, kidnap, or killing a loved one, among others), that one goes through, makes us reconsider the morality of treating others in that manner. Therefore, empathy plays a part in influencing us to take moral actions in our daily deeds. I also believe that evil individuals do lack the ability to empathize with others, and through that inability, they engage in harmful ways. Then, empathy could inadvertently influence us into saving one at the expense of others.
Whereas the examples and arguments provided by Bloom are by no means straightforward concerns, we ought to consider how moral-compassion could help us in reducing the few negative impacts of empathizing with others. I am generally a firm supporter of Bloom, since even though he is against empathy as an inherent contributor for a moral world; he also supports the idea of good deeds. As human's, I believe we should, therefore, encourage and foster the "caring for" nature of empathy as we combine it with our ability to make critical decisions, self-control, and intelligence.
In conclusion, morality and empathy towards others' suffering, is a work of impressive ambition and scope that valuably contributes to the constant debate on how being emotionally pained by the pain of other humans plays a role in morality. For most individuals, seeing others suffering and reacting in a hostile way appears entirely tricky. Although others believe, being empathetic empathy towards others is ethically appropriate. Nevertheless, sceptics such as Bloom have raised concerns on empathy's role in one's moral life by arguing that the nature of compassion is generally partial and restrictive.
Bennett, J. (1974). The conscience of Huckleberry Finn. Philosophy, 49(188), 123-134. http://faculty.umb.edu/lawrence_blum/courses/290h_09/readings/bennett_conscience.pdf
Bloom, P. (2017). Against empathy: The case for rational compassion. Random House.
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