Against Bloom: A Defense of Smithian Fellow-Feeling

Dissertation, University of Albany (2020)
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Abstract
In his 2016 book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, Paul Bloom argues that “if we want to be good caring people, if we want to make the world a better place, then we are better off without empathy.” I’ve specifically chosen this formulation of Bloom’s position because it gets at the issue I will most directly challenge him on - that we would, or even could, be better off without empathy. The position I will defend is that our empathy plays an indispensable role in the development of our moral conscience, and an ongoing role in the cultivation of our moral concepts, that would be compromised by suppressing our empathy. On this understanding, I argue that we would generally be better served by cultivating our empathy to mitigate and overcome its shortcomings, rather than suppressing our empathy as Bloom recommends.
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Archival date: 2020-07-05
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2020-07-05

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