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2009-03-(04-05) - Compassion Definitions Conference at Stanford University
"CCARE proposes that its inaugural conference focus on the challenges posed by the diverse perspectives of the different disciplines including philosophy, neuroscience, neuroeconomics, psychology and contemplative traditions that are engaged in the study of compassion and altruistic behavior.


Defining Compassion, Empathy & Altruism Scientific, Economic, Philosophical & Contemplative Perspectives, which took place March 4th to 5th 2009, was put on by CCARE.




Defining Compassion Session One

Empathy, Compassion and Altruism in Psychology.


  • James Doty, MD,

  • Thupten Jinpa, PhD,

  • Jeanne Tsai, PhD.,

  • Paul Ekman, PhD.,

  • Tracy Spinrad, PhD., and

  • Robert Sapolsky, PhD..







Defining Compassion Session Two
The Contemplative Perspective.


  • Bill Mobley, MD, PhD.,

  • Wendy Farley, PhD.,

  •  Hone Dunne, PhD.

  • Scotty McLennan, PhD.






Defining Compassion Session Three

Compassion Research in Neuroscience.


  • Brian Knutson, PhD,

  • Richard Davidson,

  • PhD, Tania Singer, PhD,

  •  Bill Mobley, MD, PhD..





Defining Compassion Session Four

Perspectives from Evolution and Philosophy.


  • Phillipe Golden, PhD

  • Felix Warneken, PhD

  • Owen Flanagan, PhD

  • Bill Newsome, PhD.






Defining Compassion Session Five

Altruistic Behavior research and Neuroeconomics.


  • Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD,

  •  Jim Andreoni, PhD,

  • Ulrich Mayr, PhD,

  • Bill Harbaugh, PhD,

  • Brian Knutson, PhD.




Defining Compassion Session Six
Open discussion held by


  • James Doty, MD,

  • Jennifer Altman, PhD,

  • Tenzin Tethong


  • Session One: Empathy, Compassion and Altruism in Psychology.

    • James Doty, MD,

    •  Thupten Jinpa, PhD,

    • Jeanne Tsai, PhD.,

    • Paul Ekman, PhD.,

    • Tracy Spinrad, PhD.,

    •  Robert Sapolsky, PhD.

  • Session Two:  The Contemplative Perspective

    • Bill Mobley, MD, PhD.,

    • Wendy Farley, PhD.,

    • Hone Dunne, PhD.,

    • Scotty McLennan, PhD..

  • Session Three:  Compassion Research in Neuroscience.

    • Brian Knutson, PhD,

    • Richard Davidson, PhD,

    • Tania Singer, PhD,

    • Bill Mobley, MD, PhD..

    Session Four: Perspectives from Evolution and Philosophy.

    • Phillipe Golden, PhD,

    •  Felix Warneken, PhD,

    • Owen Flanagan, PhD,

    • Bill Newsome, PhD.

  • Session Five: Altruistic Behavior research and Neuroeconomics.

    • Gary Steinberg, MD, PhD,

    • Jim Andreoni, PhD,

    • Ulrich Mayr, PhD,

    •  Bill Harbaugh, PhD,

    •  Brian Knutson, PhD.

  • Session Six: Open discussion held by

    • James Doty, MD,

    • Jennifer Altman, PhD

    •  Tenzin Tethong.





 (Follow links to video of each speakers presentation).


Bill Harbuagh, Economics, University of Oregon

Receiving Charity

  • study of altruism and neuroscience

  • working on charitable giving

  • donor-giver: cause of giving? compassion,

  • receiver; he's looking at receiving side.

    • negative feelings could arise

    • anonymous gifts

    • retributive gifts

    • there's a stigma with aid

    • do tests on students based on need, etc.

    • students think of others in receiving aid


Ulrich Mayr, Psychology, University of Oregon
Motives for Altruistic Behavior


Felix Warneken, Psychology, Max Planck Institute
The Roots of Human Altruism


Jim Andreoni, University of California, San Diego
Economics of Altruism and Giving


John Dunne, Religious Studies, Emory University


Owen Flanagan, Philosophy, Duke University
Is Compassion Overrated?


Paul Ekman, Professor Emeritus, Psychology, UC San Francisco
Darwin, Compassion, and the Dalia Lama

  • talks about Darwin and sympathy

  • similarity of Darwin thoughts and Buddhism

  • Darwin had Buddhist views

  • animals develop altruism

  • story of monkey helping man against baboon

  • compassion in animals and for animals

  • Dalia Lama quotes on compassion

  • emotion and emotional recognition

  • types of compassion reviewed

  • why do some people have compassion without training?

  • need global compassion to be normative


Richard Davidson, Psychology, University of Wisconsin
Cultivating compassion: Neuroscientific and behavioral approaches


Tania Singer, Neuroscience, Zurich University
Social Emotions in Social Neuroscience: From Emotion Contagion to Empathy and Fairness

  • fairness and compassion base cooperation

  • clarification of terms

    • emotional contagion;

      • yawning,

      • children crying

      • pupils change

    • mimicry;

    • empathy;

      • differentiation your feeling from the others

      • I share your pain but it's not mine

      • self other distinction

    • cognitive empathy;

      • cognitive perspective taking

      • theory of mind

      • abstract concept of the other

      • not sharing feeling

    • emotional empathy;

    • sympathy;

      • can have condescension quality

    • compassion;

      • an equality of sameness of humanity

      • difficult to define

      • deep awareness of the suffering of another

      • wish to relive it

      • human understanding the suffering of others

    • prosocial behavior;

  • empathic networks

  • neural networks activation

    • smelling disgusting odors

    • pain

  • empathy deficits

    • alexithymia - difficulty in identifying and describing your own feelings

      • have an empathy deficit

    • pain, empathy, and fairness, male and female

    • compassion training?

  • empathy training- should start with training you to identify your own feelings

  • autism empathy deficit is from alexithymia 

  • study empathy training


Thupten Jinpa, Stanford University/McGill University



Thupten Jinpa, Talks about compassion as the underlying value of all religions. Also talks about The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at  Stanford. Research in basic science of compassion; neuro science, psychological, economic.


Tracy Spinrad, Psychology, Arizona State University
Empathy-Related Responding: A Developmental Psychology Perspective



Wendy Farley, Religious Studies, Emory University



Scotty McLennan, (author - his website)