I’ve been perusing the psychological prescriptions of Martin Hoffman lately, and his suggestions and research raise some interesting ethical questions. Essentially, Hoffman presents some research that suggests that we can, if the proper technique is used, make an individual behave ethically. Before delving into those questions, however, let’s get a grasp on some of the suggestions Hoffman has put forth in his book Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice.
He begins by noting that there are five modes of empathic arousal. Three of these modes are involuntary. They, in the words of Hoffman, “not only enable a person to respond to whatever cues are available, but they also compel him to do it – instantly, automatically, and without requiring conscious awareness.” 
Later, he begins describing methods of empathic education. In other words, he describes methods of essentially programming children (and when they’re older, adults) to have these involuntary empathic responses in moral situations. The usage of word “scripts” (since there is some overlap between the usage in psychology and programming) in his description of this education was particularly striking:
Doing it right means using inductions when the child harms or is about to harm another. Induction highlights both the victim’s distress and the child’s action that caused it and has been found to contribute to the development of guilt and moral internalization in children…When the child experiences, repeatedly, the sequence of transgression followed by parent’s induction followed by child’s empathic distress and guilt feeling, the child forms Transgression -> Induction -> Guilt scripts…
If the reader’s initial reaction to this is at all similar to mine, then the above remarks might seem like the remarks of some manipulative and malicious evil scientist that seeks to control people. There’s something about Hoffman’s suggestions that make me uneasy. But why is this my (and perhaps the reader’s) initial reaction?
Perhaps it is because we hear the shouts of protest from the grave of Kant, “Autonomy! What about autonomy?!”
So, what about autonomy? Is there a conflict between respecting autonomy and engaging in empathic education to encourage moral behavior? If so, which is more important? How does this relate to more socially (and perhaps ethically) accepted forms of moral education?
 Martin Hoffman. Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice. pg. 5
 Ibid. pg. 10.