Category Archives: ethics

Welcome to the Empathy Wars (or Why Peter Singer is Wrong)

The empathy critics are on the rampage. Led by the Yale psychologist Paul Bloom, the anti-empathy brigade claim that empathy is a weak or even distorting force in moral life and public affairs. The most recent convert is Peter Singer, perhaps the world’s most influential moral philosopher and author of classic texts such as Animal […]

Also posted in emotions, empathy, history, philosophy, politics, public policy | Leave a comment

What does it take to leave the Ku Klux Klan?

It’s probably the most extraordinary story of the power of empathy I’ve ever come across. In 1971, the former Ku Klux Klan leader C.P. Ellis had an experience that blew away his prejudices and assumptions about African Americans. In this new 4-minute video produced by Renegade Inc, I reveal how and why it happened. It’s especially […]

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Is Empathy the Cure for Our Consumer Addictions?

How can we harness the power of empathy to tackle the really big global problems like wealth inequality, ecological crisis and our addiction to consumer culture? You’ll find the answers in my new report for Friends of the Earth called The Empathy Effect: How Empathy Drives Common Values, Social Justice and Environmental Action. The report, […]

Also posted in climate change, empathy, politics, public policy | Leave a comment

Tolstoy’s top tips for happiness in 2015

BBC Radio 4 is celebrating the New Year with a marathon ten-hour dramatisation of Tolstoy’s epic novel War and Peace. As part of the festivities, I’ve written an article for the BBC on seven lessons we can learn from the life of the bearded sage for the art of living in 2015. Read the article […]

Also posted in conversation, creativity, empathy, family, history, literature, love, money, politics, simple living | 2 Comments

Why We Should Give Video Cameras to the Homeless

I recently came across a powerful, short video called This is Adam, about a homeless guy living on the streets of San Francisco. He had all sorts of interesting and insightful things to say, amongst them this: ‘I notice every day that people everywhere are losing their compassion and empathy – not just for homeless […]

Also posted in art, empathy, empathy stories, empathy through experience, film | Leave a comment

Let’s base World Cup teams on star sign and shoe size!

As football fever envelops the planet, with all eyes turned towards Brazil, I want you to imagine a different World Cup. Each country sends their national team as usual, but then all the players are pooled together and divided into teams based on their astrological star sign. So Virgos play Leos, and Aquarians are pitted […]

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Why The Empathy Critics Are Wrong: Empathy Doesn’t Break Democracy, It Makes It

You can always tell when a new idea is becoming popular – people start critiquing it. That’s certainly the case when it comes to empathy, a concept that is getting more public attention today than at any point in its history (the frequency of Google searches for the word ’empathy’ has more than doubled in […]

Also posted in emotions, empathy, history, literature, philosophy, politics, psychology, public policy | 3 Comments

Why George Orwell Became A Tramp

It was exactly 30 years ago that George Orwell set the opening of his novel 1984: ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.’ Most people know Orwell for this novel, and his satirical tale Animal Farm. Less well known is that he was one of the great empathic adventurers of the […]

Also posted in empathy, history, literature, politics, travel | 2 Comments

How to empathise with a telesales caller

What kinds of life experiences open us up to empathy? One of my own, which in part inspired me to write my new book, Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution, took place when I had a horrible job working in telesales in Sydney after I left university. Here’s what I learned… Something like this has probably happened to […]

Also posted in conversation, empathy, empathy through conversation, work | 2 Comments

How old men living in cages in Hong Kong opened my mind

I’ve been giving a lot of talks in the last few weeks about my new book Empathy: A Handbook for Revolution. And almost every time someone asks me about the personal experiences that led to my own interest in empathy. So here I’d like to share one of these experiences – a kind of epiphany […]

Also posted in belief, emotions, empathy, money, politics | 7 Comments
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