I’m not so much talking about modern society, but across the millions of years of human evolution, there tends toward an equilibrium at around 2 percent of the population noncooperating – that is, being sociopaths. And if sociopathy is your strategy, then it helps you carry out that strategy if you are genetically unable to empathize.
The reason we have sociopaths is that for millions of years that niche has been there for a small percent of the human population – a niche where anti-social behavior is a successful strategy for staying alive and having offspring. As a result, the human genome produces a small percentage of folks genetically equipped to occupy that niche. These are the “primary sociopaths” -- born genetically unable to empathize. They can feel the basic emotions – such as anger, fear, sadness, disgust, surprise, joy, acceptance, and anticipation – but cannot feel what are called the social emotions. They don’t experience love, or guilt, or shame, or remorse.
1955 - 2002
“Secondary sociopaths are not as gentically predisposed to their behavior; rather, they are more responsive to environmental cues and risk factors, becoming sociopathic ‘phenocopies’ or ‘mimics’ when the carrying capacity of the ‘cheater’ niche grows.” (Sociologist Linda Mealey. See here.)We could call these people evil – implying that there’s an imperative to destroy them. But once we understand sociopathy, we can begin seeing other alternatives.
* * * * *
This is part 4 of 6 of "Theodicy: Addressing Evil"
Next: Part 5: "Answer Evil with Justice and Community"
Previous: Part 3: "From Evil to Sociopathy"
Beginning: Part 1: "The Evil Thought-Stopper"