by Kaitlyn Moore
June 25, 2011
Corporations play a big role in our day-to-day activities and they are
constantly making decisions that have a profound effect on our daily lives.
For example: a corporation makes the decision to
empty its chemical vats into a nearby river - the water supply is poisoned
and residents of the adjacent town fall sick; or a corporation makes the
decision to cut costs to increase profits and initiates a round of layoffs -
the community that was formed around the corporation is decimated.
We have often been appalled, angry, and go on
rants about the evil of corporations but according to Simon Baron Cohen -
evil is not the issue.
Mr. Baron-Cohen, an expert in autism and developmental psychology, is also a
psychology and psychiatry professor at Cambridge University. For years he
has spent considerable time researching why people commit vile and heinous
That a lack of empathy is the root cause of all evil deeds and that this
lack of empathy can be measured and treated.
He defines empathy as the drive to identify another person's thoughts and
feelings combined with the drive to respond appropriately to those thoughts
Baron-Cohen goes onto note that the lack of empathy or failure to utilize it
to its full potential is the driving force behind most of what ails our
society on a global, domestic, community, and family unit scale. The
abstract arenas of diplomatic, legal, and military channels are insufficient
to appropriately deal with conflict because their involvement forgoes
empathy from entering the picture on a true person-to-person level.
In his books Baron-Cohen sets forth an empathy bell curve spectrum and
quotient test that indicates where an individual will place along the curve.
(Good news is that most of us fall right in the middle). There is a zero
degree empathy range and within lay the psychopaths, narcissists, and
individuals suffering with borderline personality disorders.
Corporations are legislatively derived artificial individuals that can sue
and be sued, raise funds, make political decisions, etc. They are headed by
a Board of Directors that is by law duty bound to make decisions in the best
interests of the corporation.
Since corporations are businesses whose sole purpose is to
make money, best interests are almost always
those that increase profit, empathy be damned.
True, there are those corporate bodies, who while making a profit, strive to
do no harm to society. However embedded deep within the zero degrees of that
bell curve are corporations that seem to have made human suffering their
Is there a criminal housed within any prison in the world or any mental
institution that has committed the crimes noted above?
Whether the answer to
that question yes or no, the fact of the matter is not one person involved
in making any of the above decisions has served any jail time.
By their very definition corporations forgo empathetic decision making
because they are abstract beings. When making decisions that directly affect
humanity empathy is a necessary ingredient. Take away the capacity for
empathy and you are left with what we have today -
spreading what we would deem to be evil all over the world.
machine is a cold calculating one that makes decisions that solely pay
homage to the bottom dollar with the well being and needs of the human race
coming up a distant second - if at all.
Imagine a world where corporations were held to the same moral standards as
individuals, a world where profits could not be made to the detriment of the
environment, where fair wages were paid on a global scale, where government
leaders weren't paid off by corporations to make decisions directly against
the best wishes of the people they were elected to represent:
world where the corporate psychopaths were put to rest.