Is empathy always good? Or can a degree of indifference sometimes be more desirable, or even a dire necessity?
The Side Effects of Empathy
Is empathy always good? In personal relationships it might be, but it is not a miracle cure that will solve all social problems and moral dilemmas. A degree of indifference can then be desirable, or even a dire necessity. Philosopher professor Ignaas Devisch discusses the case of Victor. As a boy of 9 he suffered from a rare disease. His parents could not afford his medicine and cried for help in the media. The public opinion became very much in favour of reimbursing the medicine. But eventually research revealed another story, which has everything to do with the side-effects of empathy.
About Ignaas Devisch
Ignaas Devisch is a professor in philosophy of medicine, ethics and social philosophy. Working at the faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine of the university of Ghent (Belgium) he specializes in contemporary continental philosophy. But his interests in philosophy are quite general. Ignaas Devisch is a well-known guest speaker and the author of 16 books and about 100 scientific articles and chapters in scientific books. Among others he wrote The Empathetic Excess. In Search of a Workable Indifference (Het empathisch teveel. Op naar een werkbare onverschilligheid). He is expert member of the Belgian Superior Health Council; expert member of the Belgian Advisory Committee on Bioethics; Research Associate of the Somatechnics Research Centre (MacQuarie University, Australia); he was coordinator of a research group at the Heyendaal Instituut, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen and was member of The Centre for Ethics and Value Inquiry (UGent). bioethics’, and is consultant for several healthcare organisations. He was part of the Health Innovation Lab (University Leiden, T&O).
About lecture series Empathy
At a time when social contrasts and social inequality are coming to the fore, there are loud calls for more empathy. Many regard the human ability to put ourselves in another person’s place as a tried and tested remedy for indifference. But what is empathy? What does it do? And will ‘more empathy’ really make the world a better place?