Some think empathy is not a very good guide to moral decisions. Psychologists Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht, and William A. Cunningham disagree. They think we can choose to feel empathy when we want to. “Arguments against empathy rely on an outdated view of emotion as a capricious beast that needs to yield to sober reason. Yes, there are many situations in which empathy appears to be limited in its scope, but this is not a deficiency in the emotion itself. In our view, empathy is only as limited as we choose it to be.”
Is imagining what it is like to be someone else a good way to make moral decisions? Paul Bloom says no in “Imagining the Lives of Others.” For one thing, we’re not very good at imagining the lives of other persons. We are better off using general moral principles to make moral decisions at what we owe others.