Sure you can have empathy and do bad things to people — but not without further reasons.
Peter Lind
1

You keep saying that empathy is absent from Johnson’s writing, but it kinda blows my mind. Right there at the start of the piece, Johnson asks: “ Is it the morality, the understanding that the forcible entry of a sexual orifice of a woman is something that would personally be insufferable?”

That’s empathy dressed up in somewhat poorly-written, purple prose.

No one said people hurt others without reason. You don’t have to believe that to believe that empathy is a red herring. The fact is that you can have empathy for someone and still rape them because you want to, for one reason or another. Empathy does not instantly make someone moral; they have to also act morally as well as perceive morally.

What Johnson would or would not feel about raping someone is immaterial to the discussion at hand; I could not possibly care less. The discussion is over what compels us to act morally. He has one answer; you have another which you don’t seem capable of acknowledging (why is that? does it seem too “naive?” For the record, if it helps move this debate forward, I suppose it’s worth noting that I personally am mostly on your side; I think there’s some inherent goodness in us which compels us to act morally, which is sometimes overridden by inherent flaws that nurture can exacerbate or suppress — but that is a religious sentiment of mine and thus commonly perceived as “naive.”).

When you can acknowledge the unstated assumptions in your own position, I think you’ll get a lot more out of this conversation.

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