Is There a Rational Basis For Human Compassion? It is the kind of problem-solving philosophy, rooted in established concepts, which I prefer. OBSERVATION: I perceive a problem in Western society, as have others with me, or before me, that ethics is largely a legislative matter, at the expense of compassion. It would seem that a definition of autonomy (informed decision) says it all: "the capacity of an agent to act in accordance with objective morality rather than under the influence of desires". Also, legislation is future-orientated, while compassion is present-orientated.