Are We Hardwired for Empathy?
Is human nature predominately driven by empathy or by self-interest?
Adam Smith postulated in The Theory of Moral Sentiments that people are both benevolent and self-interested. They are most benevolent to their family, close friends, and local communities. In a complex society, however, Smith believed that benevolence as a motivation becomes limited. He saw the market as a socially useful way to coordinate society by exchange motivated from self-interest. Since Smith, the role of self-interest in explaining the direction of human history has dominated.
Can an alternate narrative—perhaps one rooted in empathy—be deployed to create a more benevolent social context on a global scale?