Peter, I was attempting to sidestep the hogwash about empathy because it’s a red herring in this discussion, in all honesty. The reason for this is that you can totally have empathy for someone and still do terrible things to that person. Empathy in and of itself is not what is preventing anyone from committing any act; it is simply a mechanism for determining how others feel about their experiences. What we do with that information defines our moral nature. Johnson’s claim appears to be on the “inherently evil but rectified by nurture” side of the debate, while your claim appears to implicitly hold that, since we are capable of imagining the experience of the victim, we automatically would not commit rape because we are “good;” we would not selfishly, knowingly harm another person. Your side says “inherently good and corrupted by nurture” or else “inherently and predeterminately good and evil, and irrespective of nurture.”
I am not coming down on either side of this divide for the purposes of this conversation; I’ll leave my own navel gazing for another time. I’m just pointing out that there’s no use being “scared” by what is in fact a valid, deep bit of introspection about human nature that is at least trying to be honest.