A very good review of Patricia Churchland's Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality.


stumblingmystic said…
Far too many of these "neuroscientists of morality" are confusing mere prosocial behavior with morality. They are not the same thing.
Awais Aftab said…
The issue is not so clear cut. What makes us human beings (and perhaps some animals) as 'moral agents' and what gives us the capacity to be moral has to do a lot with the development of prosocial behavior and emergence of emotions like empathy and sympathy, further refined by the social development. Obviously, 'what makes us moral' is a different question from 'what is morality', but it is not so separate as to have no bearing on the question either. The review also explores this in its own way.
stumblingmystic said…
Yes, I agree with you on this ... neurobiological/evolutionary foundations of morality are of course hugely important in shaping us as moral agents. But I think there are levels of morality that aren't captured by this framework ... what about when people sacrifice personal emotional and social connections for an abstract greater cause or purpose or a drive to self-actualize? What about Holocaust rescuers who risked their lives to save others, at great emotional cost to themselves, no doubt?

To explain these kinds of complex and even abstract moral behaviors you need more than just a neurobiological framework. Even a more cognitively-oriented framework would be more useful in addressing such behaviors than a neurobiological one.