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5.1l.4.2. Neuroscience of Ethics (Neuroscience of Ethics on PhilPapers)

Blair, James; Marsh, A. A.; Finger, E.; Blair, K. S. & Luo, J. (2006). Neuro-cognitive systems involved in morality. Philosophical Explorations 9 (1):13 – 27.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: In this paper, we will consider the neuro-cognitive systems involved in mediating morality. Five main claims will be made. First, that there are multiple, partially separable neuro-cognitive architectures that mediate specific aspects of morality: social convention, care-based morality, disgust-based morality and fairness/justice. Second, that all aspects of morality, including social convention, involve affect. Third, that the neural system particularly important for social convention, given its role in mediating anger and responding to angry expressions, is ventrolateral prefrontal cortex. Fourth, that the neural systems particularly important for care-based morality are the amygdala and medial orbital frontal cortex. Fifth, that while Theory of Mind is not a prerequisite for the development of affect-based 'automatic moral attitudes', it is critically involved in many aspects of moral reasoning
Brickner, Richard M. (1944). Man and his values considered neurologically. Journal of Philosophy 41 (9):225-243.   (Google | More links)
Brown, Stephanie L. & Brown, R. Michael (2005). Social bonds, motivational conflict, and altruism: Implications for neurobiology. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (3):351-352.   (Google)
Abstract: Depue & Morrone-Strupinsky (D&M-S) do not address how a reward system accommodates the motivational dilemmas associated with (a) the decision to approach versus avoid conspecifics, and (b) self versus other tradeoffs inherent in behaving altruistically toward bonded relationship partners. We provide an alternative evolutionary view that addresses motivational conflict, and discuss implications for the neurobiological study of affiliative bonds
Bunge, Silvia A. & Wallis, Jonathan D. (eds.) (2008). Neuroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior. Oxford University Press.   (Google)
Abstract: euroscience of Rule-Guided Behavior brings together, for the first time, the experiments and theories that have created the new science of rules. Rules are central to human behavior, but until now the field of neuroscience lacked a synthetic approach to understanding them. How are rules learned, retrieved from memory, maintained in consciousness and implemented? How are they used to solve problems and select among actions and activities? How are the various levels of rules represented in the brain, ranging from simple conditional ones if a traffic light turns red, then stop to rules and strategies of such sophistication that they defy description? And how do brain regions interact to produce rule-guided behavior? These are among the most fundamental questions facing neuroscience, but until recently there was relatively little progress in answering them. It was difficult to probe brain mechanisms in humans, and expert opinion held that animals lacked the capacity for such high-level behavior. However, rapid progress in neuroimaging technology has allowed investigators to explore brain mechanisms in humans, while increasingly sophisticated behavioral methods have revealed that animals can and do use high-level rules to control their behavior. The resulting explosion of information has led to a new science of rules, but it has also produced a plethora of overlapping ideas and terminology and a field sorely in need of synthesis. In this book, Silvia Bunge and Jonathan Wallis bring together the worlds leading cognitive and systems neuroscientists to explain the most recent research on rule-guided behavior. Their work covers a wide range of disciplines and methods, including neuropsychology, functional magnetic resonance imaging, neurophysiology, electroencephalography, neuropharmacology, near-infrared spectroscopy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. This unprecedented synthesis is a must-read for anyone interested in how complex behavior is controlled and organized by the brain
Camerer, Colin F. (2008). The potential of neuroeconomics. Economics and Philosophy 24 (3):369-379.   (Google)
Carter, C. S.; Bales, K. L. & Porges, S. W. (2005). Neuropeptides influence expression of and capacity to form social bonds. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (3):353-354.   (Google)
Abstract: In the present commentary we expand on two concepts relevant to understanding affliliative bonding. Differences and similarities between the functions and actions of oxytocin and vasopressin are difficult to study but may be critical to an understanding of mechanisms for social bonding. What is termed here a “trait of affiliation” may reflect in part the capacity of these same peptides to program the developing nervous system
Carter, Adrian & Hall, Wayne (2007). The social implications of neurobiological explanations of resistible compulsions. American Journal of Bioethics 7 (1):15 – 17.   (Google)
Casebeer, William D. (2005). Neurobiology supports virtue theory on the role of heuristics in moral cognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (4):547-548.   (Google)
Abstract: Sunstein is right that poorly informed heuristics can influence moral judgment. His case could be strengthened by tightening neurobiologically plausible working definitions regarding what a heuristic is, considering a background moral theory that has more strength in wide reflective equilibrium than “weak consequentialism,” and systematically examining what naturalized virtue theory has to say about the role of heuristics in moral reasoning
Chauchard, Paul (1957). Intériorité et objectivation du subjectif en neurophysiologie. Acta Biotheoretica 12 (3).   (Google)
Abstract: The problem of inferiority, of subjectivity, of conscience, is not only a metaphysical or psychological problem; it is susceptible to objective scientific study at the neurophysiological level. This study must not stop, however, at an analysis of cerebral function but must also recognize that conscience results from the self-being of the individual at himself in certain structures of his brain and that a cerebral process is or is not conscious according to whether or not it is integrated into the structure of the whole. This is best developed in man by virtue of the cerebral complexity which makes possible the verbalization of one self. The spiritual always appears as a functional, nonlocalizable aspect of the whole of the aggregate individual
Churchland, Patricia S. (2008). Human dignity from a neurophilosophical perspective. In Adam Schulman (ed.), Human Dignity and Bioethics: Essays Commissioned by the President's Council on Bioethics. [President's Council on Bioethics.   (Google)
Clavien, Christine & Klein, Rebekka, Eager for fairness or for revenge? Altruism and emotion in neuroeconomics.   (Google)
Abstract: In order to understand the human capacity for altruism one requires a proper understanding of how people actually think and feel. This paper addresses the relevance that recent findings in neu-roeconomics may have for the philosophical controversy between altruism and egoism, with par-ticular emphasis on the importance of emotion in understanding altruistic motivation. After briefly contextualising and sketching the philosophical controversy, we survey the results of three interesting studies that provide stimulating clues for the debate. We focus our attention particu-larly on the 2004 study in neuroeconomics by Dominique de Quervain, Urs Fischbacher and col-leagues, which contains an argument in favour of psychological egoism. On the basis of an emo-tional account of decision-making, we show that their analysis of the results – people seek fair-ness – may be questioned; we propose an alternative interpretation of the data – people seek re-venge. Unfortunately, our ‘emotion-directed’ interpretation renders this study far less relevant for the debate over the possibility of psychological altruism than previously expected
de Aguirre, María Inés (2006). Neurobiological bases of aggression, violence, and cruelty. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (3):228-229.   (Google)
Abstract: Aggression, violence, and cruelty are symptoms of psychiatric illness. They reflect abnormalities in the regulation of the stress and emotion circuitries. The functioning of these circuitries depends upon the interaction between genetics and environment. Abuse and neglect during infancy, as well as maternal stress and poor quality of maternal care, are some of the causes that produce these types of abnormal behavior. Research on the neurobiological bases of emotion regulation will allow the detection of the population at risk
Gray, Jeremy R. & Braver, Todd S. (2002). Cognitive control in altruism and self-control: A social cognitive neuroscience perspective. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (2):260-260.   (Google)
Abstract: The primrose path and prisoner's dilemma paradigms may require cognitive (executive) control: The active maintenance of context representations in lateral prefrontal cortex to provide top-down support for specific behaviors in the face of short delays or stronger response tendencies. This perspective suggests further tests of whether altruism is a type of self-control, including brain imaging, induced affect, and dual-task studies
Hardy-Vallee, Benoit (ms). Decision-making: A neuroeconomic perspective.   (Google)
Abstract: This article introduces and discusses from a philosophical point of view the nascent field of neuroeconomics, which is the study of neural mechanisms involved in decision-making and their economic significance. Following a survey of the ways in which decision-making is usually construed in philosophy, economics and psychology, I review many important findings in neuroeconomics to show that they suggest a revised picture of decision-making and ourselves as choosing agents. Finally, I outline a neuroeconomic account of irrationality
Hollingsworth, Andrea (2008). Implications of interpersonal neurobiology for a spirituality of compassion. Zygon 43 (4):837-860.   (Google)
Abstract: Interpersonal neurobiology (IPNB) is a burgeoning interdisciplinary field that focuses on ways in which relationships shape and transform the architecture and functioning of the human brain. IPNB points to four specific conditions that appear to encourage the emergence of empathy. Further, these conditions, when gathered together, may constitute the core components of a spirituality of compassion. Following definitions and a discussion of interdisciplinary method, this essay delineates IPNB's main tenets and demonstrates ways in which IPNB sheds light on important aspects of human empathy and compassion. Drawing on this analysis, it introduces the four conditions that encourage the emergence of empathy in individuals and groups and shows why they may be central elements of a spirituality of compassion. A case study, in which the Native American Ojibwe practice of the talking circle is described and assessed through the lens of the IPNB-derived spirituality of compassion, demonstrates the evaluative usefulness of this set of conditions
Shackel, Nicholas & Kahane, Guy (2008). Do abnormal responses show utilitarian bias? Nature 452:E5.   (Google)
Kahane, Guy & Shackel, Nicholas (forthcoming). Methodological Problems in the Neuroscience of Moral Judgment. Mind and Language.   (Google)
Abstract: Neuroscience and psychology have recently turned their attention to the study of the subpersonal underpinnings of moral judgment. In this paper we critically examine an influential strand of research originating in Greene’s neuroimaging studies of ‘utilitarian’ and ‘non-utilitarian’ moral judgement. We argue that given that the explananda of this research are specific personal-level states—moral judgments with certain propositional contents—its methodology has to be sensitive to criteria for ascribing states with such contents to subjects. We argue that current research has often failed to meet this constraint by failing to correctly ‘fix’ key aspects of moral judgment, criticism we support by detailed examples from the scientific literature.
Kamm, F. M. (2009). Neuroscience and moral reasoning: A note on recent research. Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (4):330-345.   (Google)
Klein, Colin (forthcoming). The dual track theory of moral decision-making: A critique of the neuroimaging evidence. Neuroethics.   (Google | More links)
Abstract: The dual-track theory of moral reasoning has received considerable attention due to the neuroimaging work of Greene et al. Greene et al. claimed that certain kinds of moral dilemmas activated brain regions specific to emotional responses, while others activated areas specific to cognition. This appears to indicate a dissociation between different types of moral reasoning. I re-evaluate these claims of specificity in light of subsequent empirical work. I argue that none of the cortical areas identified by Greene et al. are functionally specific: each is active in a wide variety of both cognitive and emotional tasks. I further argue that distinct activation across conditions is not strong evidence for dissociation. This undermines support for the dual-track hypothesis. I further argue that moral decision-making appears to activate a common network that underlies self-projection : the ability to imagine oneself from a variety of viewpoints in a variety of situations. I argue that the utilization of self-projection indicates a continuity between moral decision-making and other kinds of complex social deliberation. This may have normative consequences, but teasing them out will require careful attention to both empirical and philosophical concerns
Mackenzie, Catriona (2009). Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter , ed., moral psychology, volume 3. the neuroscience of morality: Emotion, brain disorders, and development , cambridge, ma: Mit press, 2008, pp. XIX + 569, us $30 (paperback). Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):528 – 532.   (Google)
Morrow, David (2009). Moral Psychology and the Mencian Creature. Philosophical Psychology 22 (3):281-304.   (Google)
Abstract: Recent work in various branches of philosophy has reinvigorated debate over the psychology behind moral judgment. Using Marc Hauser's categorization of theories as “Kantian,” “Humean,” or “Rawlsian” to frame the discussion, I argue that the existing evidence weighs against the Kantian model and partly in favor of both the Humean and the Rawlsian models. Emotions do play a causal role in the formation of our moral judgments, as the Humean model claims, but there are also unconscious principles shaping our moral judgments, as the Rawlsian model predicts. Thus, Hauser's tripartite division of possible models of moral psychology is inadequate. Drawing on research in cognitive neuroscience, clinical and behavioral psychology, and psychopathology, I sketch a new, developmental sentimentalist model of moral psychology. I call it a “Mencian” model, after the Confucian philosopher Mencius. On this model, moral judgments are caused by emotions, but because of the way emotions are mapped onto particular actions, moral judgments unconsciously reflect certain principled distinctions