In Wired to Care (ISBN 978-0-13-714234-7) author Dev Patnaik wrote: “Bringing people face to face triggers a caring response. … Putting consumers and producers together can do much of the regulation for you. When producers can see the impact that their business decisions have on their customers, they instinctively change their behaviour to generate more positive effects.”

Our laws and regulations are essentially a set of agreed and formalised expectations of what is considered acceptable behaviour. Codified decency if you will.

Without it, the decent people will probably still act decently. After all, how many times in a day do you stop and consciously ponder whether you are breaking the law or not? The nasty ones will continue to do so. What I want to know is, is there a silent majority of fence sitters for which the punitive aspects of law are a real and significant deterrent?

Put another way, Patnaik is saying that lawlessness comes from not being able to see the effects of our actions on others. Increasing empathy (or the permission to practice empathy) decreases the need to regulate.

“People who are driven by empathy don’t want to let down the folks they serve. … The human mind is structured to put emption ahead of intellect. … our so-called sensitive side is what gives us our strength.”

Buy now from Amazon:
Wired to Care: How Companies Prosper When They Create Widespread Empathy