Tag Archives: empathy

Paul Bloom: The case against empathy

Paul Bloom: The case against empathy

“The power of this faculty has something to do with its ability to bring our moral concern into a laser pointer of focussed attention. If a planet of billions is to survive, however, we’ll need to take into consideration the welfare of people not yet harmed—and, even more, of people not yet born. They have no names, faces, or stories to grip our conscience or stir our fellow-feeling. Their prospects call, rather, for deliberation and calculation. Our hearts will always go out to the baby in the well; it’s a measure of our humanity. But empathy will have to yield to reason if humanity is to have a future.”

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The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

“What is striking to me about the drone debate and the consideration of civilian casualties in Iraq is the pattern of attention. The infamous line of General Tommie Franks, “we don’t do body counts” (regarding, in that instance, Afghanistan, but equally applicable to Iraq), signaled a stubborn resistance on the part of the military to provide an account of the human cost of the war. The U.S. government was opaque, not only with regard to individual incidents, like the Haditha massacre, but about the overall picture of human insecurity in Iraq. When violence against civilians was discussed, it was typically attributed to Iraqis themselves, a ‘blaming-the-victim’ convenience. No statistical account was pursued by the government. The same has been true of drones, in which the program remains unacknowledged or at least not discussed officially, civilian ‘collateral damage’ denied, and an implicit attribution of blame to the ‘terrorists’ being targeted.”

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Richest Country’s Empty Plates

Richest Country’s Empty Plates

“Lori Silverbush, co-director of A Place at the Table , says she always knew people were hungry in the US, but had no idea the numbers were so massive. The film shows hunger increasing under US Presidents, along with clips of them all claiming to tackle the issue. Under Reagan, 20 m Americans were hungry; George HW Bush, 30 m; Bill Clinton, 33 m; George W. Bush, 49 million; President Barack Obama, almost 50 million.

Over the course of interviewing people for two years, Silverbush was shocked to learn that there is hunger in every single county in the US. Before making the film, like many Americans, she believed that writing a bigger check to her favorite charitable organisations was the answer. The other misconception is that we just do not have enough healthy food to feed everyone.  That is not true. The real problem is poverty.”

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