Let's say hypothetically that a child is drowning in the sea. A human lies down on the beach reading a book and sees the child a couple of feet from the shore screaming bloody murder and asking for help. There is no one else on the beach. The human now has a choice:1) throw the book aside, get up from the sunbed, jump in the water and rescue the child.. which means getting wet and getting inconvenienced2) to takes a magic pill that will make the human completely forget and ignore the situation completely after the child drowns, thus getting rid of any feelings of guilt for not getting up from a relaxing sunbed to rescue the child.Most psychologists agree that empathy is hardwired in humans and that no human would ever go for option 2 even if it existed.it's a drastic example but one that removes any factors and isolates the subject of empathy.
http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/199704--.htmhere's an article that partially touches on this topic but doesn't bring up the hypothetical scenario
Empathy, as per the official definition, is the ability to understand and share the feeling of another. Your example is a bit extreme and I don't think that the main driver of someone rescuing a drowning kid is empathy; the magic pill would work after the event. At the decision point, the human will still feel guilt, compassion,sympathy moral obligation to help and a number of other feelings that 99.9% of times will drive the person to save the child. "empathy" is used for different type and less obvious cases highlighting the human ability to guess and internalize the feelings, state and way of thinking of someone. It's a difficult trait to have and apply; for example it's considered one of the major traits of a leader . So we can argue that there is a lot of examples of people who luck empathy when interacting with other human beings on our every day life rather than in extreme cases. You can also check this article http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/empathy/definition
the author starts off the article/example by saying:"To challenge my students to think about the ethics of what we owe to people in need, I ask them to imagine that their route to the university takes them past a shallow pond".I'm pretty sure that if you ask anyone what is the word to describe the feeling of "what we owe to people", 'empathy' would be the word.
I mean someone may be born with a defect that stops empathy totally, but who knows.
Have you ever been in washington?
Our president-elect, his cabinet choices, much of Congress,
I do believe that people are born having empathy and sympathy but unfortunately different experiences/ interactions in life can lead people to forget these basic human skills