The Morality of Empathy
The government's decision to end the scheme that let unaccompanied migrant children into the UK has provoked an outcry. Many had hoped that we could offer a home to thousands of child refugees and the closure of the scheme has been branded "shameful". It's hard not to empathise with the bewildered and vulnerable child refugees now stranded in Europe and it's a very natural human reaction to want to do something to help. But what if, in the very act of helping, we make matters worse? The resettlement scheme has been halted because it's feared that it will just encourage child trafficking. In this case, our empathy could be leading to greater harm and suffering. Morally, how useful is the emotion of empathy? It might encourage us to feel compassion - and experiencing that emption may make us feel better about ourselves - but, as Aristotle warned, "we are easily deceived concerning our perceptions when we're in the grip of our emotions." In a difficult world where there are no easy answers, does empathy cloud our judgment? It is morally better to use reason and evidence to decide on the most effective, altruistic course of action? The morality of empathy. Witnesses are Oliver Moody, George Gabriel, Harry Phibbs and Prof Paul Gilbert.