A frequent question I get is how can sociopaths be good? Why would sociopaths choose to "do the right thing" if they don't feel the emotion "guilt" like everyone else does?
We all use short cuts to make decisions. It would be impossible for us to make a fully informed, reasoned decision every time such a decision was necessary. Empaths use emotional shortcuts, sociopaths don't/can't, so we come up with some other shortcut. A lot of sociopaths use shortcuts like "anything goes," or "I am only in it for me," but I have also met/talked to many sociopaths who have a more "principled" approach to life. I have met sociopaths who are utilitarian, a la Jeremy Bentham, or even Rawlsian. Some of my readers use religious codes to guide their actions. I use the shortcut of economic efficiency, gap-filled by Judeo-Christian ethics, which for me acts like a mental/emotional exercise regime -- monotonous drudgery, but ultimately good for mental/emotional health. The one thing that sociopath "codes" tend to have in common is that they don't fully map with prevailing social norms.
To my eyes, normal people lack a certain consistency in their sense of right and wrong. I think the American political parties are a good example of this. Why is the christian right against helping poor people? How can big government square with a desire to maximize individual freedoms? I have often wondered why people choose to be "conservative" or "liberal" rather than libertarian or socialist. My mind can't reconcile the seeming inconsistencies like other people's minds do, apparently.
One sort of bad thing about the sociopath's "code" compared to the empaths' is that the empath really drinks the Kool-Aid and believes that their way of life is "right," and has intrinsic meaning and purpose. Sociopaths get no such benefit from our codes, which is why our coping methods for dealing with the world, with all its uncertainties and pointlessness, are not always adequate to keep the darkness out of our minds and hearts.