Moral Brains

Moral Brains: The Neuroscience of Morality by S. Matthew Liao 2016

About the Author
S. Matthew Liao is the Director and Associate Professor of the Center for Bioethics, and Affiliated Professor in the Department of Philosophy at New York University. He is the author of The Right to Be Loved (Oxford University Press); co-editor of Philosophical Foundations of Human Rights (Oxford University Press); and over 50 articles in philosophy and bioethics. He has given a TED talk in New York, will give a TEDx talk at CERN in October, and has been featured in the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, the BBC, Harper’s Magazine, Sydney Morning Herald, Scientific American and other media outlets. He is the Editor-in-Chief for the Journal of Moral Philosophy, a peer-reviewed international journal of moral, political and legal philosophy.

About the Book
In the last fifteen years, there has been significant interest in studying the brain structures involved in moral judgments using novel techniques from neuroscience such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Many people, including a number of philosophers, believe that results from neuroscience have the potential to settle seemingly intractable debates concerning the nature, practice, and reliability of moral judgments. This has led to a flurry of scientific and philosophical activities, resulting in the rapid growth of the new field of moral neuroscience. There is now a vast array of ongoing scientific research devoted towards understanding the neural correlates of moral judgments, accompanied by a large philosophical literature aimed at interpreting and examining the methodology and the results of this research. This is the first volume to take stock of fifteen years of research of this fast-growing field of moral neuroscience and to recommend future directions for
research. It features the most up-to-date research in this area, and it presents a wide variety of perspectives on this topic.

“An accessible, comprehensive, and straightforward introduction to the neuroscientific study of morality and its use in philosophical arguments. The book aims to take stock of the last fifteen years of research and features fifteen essays by renowned scholars in the field. The comprehensive introduction by Liao and the book’s reflections on the latest developments in the field set it apart from alternatives…researchers and students interested in morality today are well advised to be familiar with its neurological underpinnings, not only to gain more robust evidence about how ‘we’ think about morality but also to find out what kind of research would be needed to advance the philosophical debate. Reading this book will set them up to a solid start.” –Metapsychology Online Reviews

Summary of Introduction (partial)
As moral agents, we have the capacity to make moral judgments and to act in light of these moral judgments.

For instance, an issue of perennial interest concerns what moral judgments are and how moral judgments differ from nonmoral judgments.

Moral judgments such as “Torture is wrong” seem different from nonmoral judgments such as “Water is wet.” But how do moral judgments differ from nonmoral, but normative judgments such as “The time on the clock is wrong” or “Talking with one’s mouth full is wrong”?

Can, for example, R. M. Hare’s proposal that moral judgments are prescriptive, universalizable, and over- riding distinguish moral judgments from nonmoral judgments?

In particular, section 3 will examine the issue of whether moral judgments are intrinsically motivating; section 4 will consider whether moral judgments tend to be the product of emotions or reason- ing; and section 5 will discuss whether there is an innate moral faculty that can pro- duce moral judgments without inputs from emotions or reasoning.

Read online
Download to read offline

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s