Hayek Lecture Series: "The Empathy Problem," David C. Rose, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Event Type: 
Public Lecture
Monday, March 3, 2014
Social Sciences 113

"The Empathy Problem"


Our capacity for empathy goes to the very heart of what it means to be human. Empathy compels us to refrain from harming others and it makes altruism more efficient. In the small group milieu within which most of our evolution took place, empathy also provides a strong foundation for our being able to trust one another. But important as it is, empathy is still not enough to provide an adequate moral foundation for a high trust society capable of supporting genuine human flourishing. Human flourishing requires large group cooperation and effective large group cooperation requires being able to trust each other in large group contexts. This talk shows why empathy effects wither in large group contexts and explains how some societies have been able to supplement moral beliefs to deal with the empathy problem.

This public lecture is sponsored by the Center for the History of Political Economy, the program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and the program in American Values and Institutions at Duke University.The series is supported by a grant from theThomas W. Smith Foundation.