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Empathy is a major topic of multidisciplinary and international interest because it is crucial to the functioning of all social structures—large, small, intimate local, national, and international. Some observers, including Paul Bloom in his 2013 essay, Against Empathy, credit empathy with being “the main driver of human progress,” yet he and others point out how complicated the matter of empathy really is. In a world of ideological, geopolitical, and systemic divides and the deterioration of relations among peoples at all levels of society, empathy allows for the possibility of mutual reciprocity, understanding an adversary, reaching agreement on issues, working toward a compromise to serve common or compatible interests, and achieving the by-product of contributing to mutual trust and respect.

Empathy can blunt harsh exchanges, reduce conflict-based ...

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