Center for Building a Culture of Empathy

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Jonathan Baron

 Jonathan Baron and Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy

Jonathan Baron, Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania." I study how people think about moral questions, especially questions about public policy.


Current topics of interest are the nature of individual differences in reflective and intuitive thinking, and the possible existence of naÔve theories of the role of citizens in democracies, such as the idea that people should vote for their self-interest or for the interests of groups with which they identify."





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Response to 'The Baby in the Well, The Case Against Empathy'
by Paul Bloom - The  New Yorker Magazine 
[Claim that Empathy leads to retribution: Cited study by Jonathan Baron and Ilana Ritov]

"On many issues, empathy can pull us in the wrong direction. But the appetite for retribution is typically indifferent to long-term consequences. In one study, conducted by Jonathan Baron and Ilana Ritov, people were asked how best to punish a company for producing a vaccine that caused the death of a child.  Some were told that a higher fine would make the company work harder to manufacture a safer product; others were told that a higher fine would discourage the company from making the vaccine, and since there were no acceptable alternatives on the market the punishment would lead to more deaths. Most people didnít care; they wanted the company fined heavily, whatever the consequence."

Response:  Ilana Ritov  Email to Edwin Rutsch:
"Just briefly, the term "identifiable victim" was coined by Shelling. Regarding Paul Bloom's reference to our work, I think it was quite accurate. I share his view that while empathy certainly has an important role, it is highly susceptible to biases, and should not serve as the sole basis for public policy."

Response:  Jonathan Baron Supporting the Case Against Empathy by Paul Bloom - New Yorker Magazine