Date of Award




Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of Philosophy

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 41 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Jason D'Cruz

Committee Members

Ariel Zylberman


Adam Smith, Empathy, Jamil Zaki, Lisa Feldman Barrett, Patricia Churchland, Paul Bloom, Conscience

Subject Categories

Ethics and Political Philosophy


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.