The Myth of the Moral Brain

Author: Harris Wiseman
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 026233366X
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Throughout history, humanity has been seen as being in need of improvement, most pressingly in need of moral improvement. Today, in what has been called the beginnings of "the golden age of neuroscience," laboratory findings claim to offer insights into how the brain "does" morality, even suggesting that it is possible to make people more moral by manipulating their biology. Can "moral bioenhancement" -- using technological or pharmaceutical means to boost the morally desirable and remove the morally problematic -- bring about a morally improved humanity? In The Myth of the Moral Brain, Harris Wiseman argues that moral functioning is immeasurably complex, mediated by biology but not determined by it. Morality cannot be engineered; there is no such thing as a "moral brain."Wiseman takes a distinctively interdisciplinary approach, drawing on insights from philosophy, biology, theology, and clinical psychology. He considers philosophical rationales for moral enhancement, and the practical realities they come up against; recent empirical work, including studies of the cognitive and behavioral effects of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine; and traditional moral education, in particular the influence of religious thought, belief, and practice. Arguing that morality involves many interacting elements, Wiseman proposes an integrated bio-psycho-social approach to the consideration of moral enhancement. Such an approach would show that, by virtue of their sheer numbers, social and environmental factors are more important in shaping moral functioning than the neurobiological factors with which they are interwoven.

The Self Beyond Itself

Author: Heidi M. Ravven
Publisher: New Press, The
ISBN: 1595588000
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Few concepts are more unshakable in our culture than "free will," the idea that individuals are fundamentally in control of the decisions they make, good or bad. And yet the latest research about how the brain functions seems to point in the opposite direction, with fresh discoveries indicating the many ways in which humans are subject to influences well beyond the control of the conscious self. In The Self Beyond Itself, acclaimed scholar Heidi M. Ravven offers a wide-ranging and bold argument for a new vision of ethics, one that takes into account neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology, challenging the ways in which we view our actions—and, indeed, our selves. In a work of breathtaking intellectual sweep and erudition, Ravven offers a riveting and accessible review of cutting-edge neuroscientific research into the brain’s capacity for decision-making—from "mirror" neurons and "self-mapping" to surprising new understandings of group psychology. The Self Beyond Itself also introduces readers to a rich, alternative philosophical tradition of ethics, rooted in the writing of Baruch Spinoza, that finds uncanny confirmation in modern science. Illustrating the results of today’s research with real-life examples, taking readers from elementary school classrooms to Nazi concentration camps, Ravven demonstrates that it is possible to build a theory of ethics that doesn’t rely on free will yet still holds both individuals and groups responsible for the decisions that help create a good society. The Self Beyond Itself is that rare book that injects new ideas into an old debate—and helps us consider anew our understanding of ourselves and of our world.

The Evolution of Morality

Author: Richard Joyce
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262263252
Format: PDF, ePub
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Moral thinking pervades our practical lives, but where did this way of thinking come from, and what purpose does it serve? Is it to be explained by environmental pressures on our ancestors a million years ago, or is it a cultural invention of more recent origin? In The Evolution of Morality, Richard Joyce takes up these controversial questions, finding that the evidence supports an innate basis to human morality. As a moral philosopher, Joyce is interested in whether any implications follow from this hypothesis. Might the fact that the human brain has been biologically prepared by natural selection to engage in moral judgment serve in some sense to vindicate this way of thinking -- staving off the threat of moral skepticism, or even undergirding some version of moral realism? Or if morality has an adaptive explanation in genetic terms -- if it is, as Joyce writes, "just something that helped our ancestors make more babies" -- might such an explanation actually undermine morality's central role in our lives? He carefully examines both the evolutionary "vindication of morality" and the evolutionary "debunking of morality," considering the skeptical view more seriously than have others who have treated the subject.Interdisciplinary and combining the latest results from the empirical sciences with philosophical discussion, The Evolution of Morality is one of the few books in this area written from the perspective of moral philosophy. Concise and without technical jargon, the arguments are rigorous but accessible to readers from different academic backgrounds. Joyce discusses complex issues in plain language while advocating subtle and sometimes radical views. The Evolution of Morality lays the philosophical foundations for further research into the biological understanding of human morality.

The Meaning of Mind

Author: Thomas Stephen Szasz
Publisher: Syracuse University Press
ISBN: 9780815607755
Format: PDF, Docs
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In this brilliantly original and highly accessible work, Thomas Szasz demonstrates the futility of analyzing the mind as a collection of brain functions.This is Szasz's most ambitious work to date. In his best-selling book, The Myth of Mental Illness, he took psychiatry to task for misconstruing human conflict and coping as mental illness. In Our Right to Drugs, he exposed the irrationality and political opportunism that fuels the Drug War. In The Meaning of Mind, he warns that we misconstrue the dialogue within as a problem of consciousness and neuroscience, and do so at our own peril.

The Moral Landscape

Author: Sam Harris
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
ISBN: 143917122X
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Calls for an end to religion's role in dictating morality, demonstrating how the scientific community's understandings about the human brain may enable the establishment of secular codes of behavior.

Neo liberal Genetics

Author: Susan McKinnon
Publisher: Prickly Paradigm
ISBN: 9780976147527
Format: PDF
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Evolutionary psychology claims to be the authoritative science of "human nature." Its chief architects, including Stephen Pinker and David Buss, have managed to reach well beyond the ivory tower to win large audiences and influence public discourse. But do the answers that evolutionary psychologists provide about language, sex, and social relations add up? Susan McKinnon thinks not. Far from being an account of evolution and social relations that has historical and cross-cultural validity, evolutionary psychology is a stunning example of a "science" that twists evolutionary genetics into a myth of human origins. As McKinnon shows, that myth is shaped by neo-liberal economic values and relies on ethnocentric understandings of sex, gender, kinship, and social relations. She also explores the implications for public policy of the moral tales that are told by evolutionary psychologists in the guise of "scientific" inquiry. Drawing widely from the anthropological record, Neo-liberal Genetics offers a sustained and accessible critique of the myths of human nature fabricated by evolutionary psychologists.

Unfit for the Future

Author: Ingmar Persson
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 019965364X
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Unfit for the Future argues that the future of our species depends on radical enhancement of the moral aspects of our nature. Population growth and technological advances are threatening to undermine the conditions of worthwhile life on earth forever. We need to modify the biological bases of human motivation to deal with this challenge.

The Moral Brain

Author: Jan Verplaetse
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9781402062872
Format: PDF, Docs
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Scientists no longer accept the existence of a distinct moral organ as phrenologists once did. A generation of young neurologists is using advanced technological medical equipment to unravel specific brain processes enabling moral cognition. In addition, evolutionary psychologists have formulated hypotheses about the origins and nature of our moral architecture. Little by little, the concept of a ‘moral brain’ is reinstated. As the crossover between disciplines focusing on moral cognition was rather limited up to now, this book aims at filling the gap. Which evolutionary biological hypotheses provide a useful framework for starting new neurological research? How can brain imaging be used to corroborate hypotheses concerning the evolutionary background of our species? In this reader, a broad range of prominent scientists and philosophers shed their expert view on the current accomplishments and future challenges in the field of moral cognition and assess how cooperation between neurology and evolutionary psychology can boost research into the field of the moral brain.

Hardwired Behavior

Author: Laurence Tancredi
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 9780521860017
Format: PDF, Kindle
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Argues that the concepts of social morality and individual responsibility begin in the brain.