It is a rare combination, and extremely fruitful. Churchland roots morality firmly in the social emotions rather than in some abstract principles, yet shows us how and why these principles nevertheless emerge. For sociality, the important result was that the ambit of me extends to include others -- me-and-mine. Offspring, mates, and kin came to be embraced in the sphere of me-ness; we nurture them, fight off threats to them, keep them warm and safe.
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Reviews 27 What is morality? Where does it come from? And why do most of us heed its call most of the time? In Braintrust, neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain.
Moral values, Churchland argues, are rooted in a behavior common to all mammals — the caring for offspring. Separation and exclusion cause pain, and the company of loved ones causes pleasure; responding to feelings of social pain and pleasure, brains adjust their circuitry to local customs.
In this way, caring is apportioned, conscience molded, and moral intuitions instilled. Churchland is professor emerita of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. Her books include Brain-Wise and Neurophilosophy. With a series of examples, she rejects the idea that morality is a set of rules and codes handed down from on high, without which we would all behave badley.
In my view, by illuminating the biological foundations on which caring, cooperation and social understanding are based, and by arguing against simplistic views about innateness and divine ordination, Churchland has delineated the conceptual space still to be navigated concerning which actions are morally right, how we come to those decisions, and how we justify them. Roskies, Nature "Churchland provides an important service in Braintrust by applying recent scientific research to moral concerns.
Mathis, Science "Intriguing. The puzzle that concerns [Churchland] above all is whether morality can be explained or justified by science. She is a brilliantly precise and often slyly funny demolisher of exaggerated claims. According to neurophilosopher Patricia S.
Churchland in her book Braintrust, morality originates in the brain. She argues that over time the human brain evolved to feel social pain and pleasure. As humans evolved to care about the wellbeing of others, they also developed a sense of morality. In bringing together aspects of philosophy and neuroscience, Churchland presents a persuasive argument that morality is not shaped solely by religious or social forces but, instead, also draws on hormonal triggers, genes, and brain evolution.
This influential work is likely to be a valuable resource for anyone seeking to gain a fresh, exciting perspective on an oft-discussed area of philosophy.
Particularly those made by scientists and non-religious philosophers. And the time is ripe for this sort of coverage. Instead, sit back and let Churchland run her ideas past you. Even a philosopher friend was fuzzy on the details. But now, with a new book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality, she is taking her perspective into fresh terrain: ethics.
Hers is a bottom-up, biological story, but, in her telling, it also has implications for ethical theory. Morality turns out to be not a quest for overarching principles but rather a process and practice not very different from negotiating our way through day-to-day social life.
But it is also humanistic. For [Churchland], although the capacities that make us moral are the products of evolution and can be explained in detail by neuroscience, the content of morality is very importantly the product of human culture. This smart, lucid and often entertaining book will give any curious mind a good overview of how the brain learns to distinguish right from wrong. As such, the book will appeal not only to students but also to a wider audience who might be keen to attend to a reliable, constructive, scientifically grounded, and clearly unfolding narration about human life.
Churchland eloquently defends the naturalization of morality, inviting readers to reconsider such normatively significant notions as empathy, caring, and trust in light of new understandings of the role of oxytocin and other hormones, possibilities inherent in mirror neurons, and distinctions between various forms of psychopathy and normal behaviors.
Additionally, she tackles head-on deeply rooted philosophical challenges that are motivated by the famous is-ought fallacy or embedded in more traditional moral theories such as consequentialism or deontology. Patricia Churchland once again leads the way. Gazzaniga, author of Human: The Science Behind What Makes Your Brain Unique "Few areas of science are as relevant for the future of humanity as the science of morality, and few scholars are as prepared to comment on its current status as Patricia Churchland.
She has exactly the right background to carve out an original approach to the problem, and the skills needed to lead the reader to solid new facts while being merciless with exaggerated claims and sloppy thinking. Braintrust is vintage Churchland, only better. It is a rare combination, and extremely fruitful. Churchland roots morality firmly in the social emotions rather than in some abstract principles, yet shows us how and why these principles nevertheless emerge.
We learn how brain chemicals implicated in orgasms also underlie ethics. But Churchland resists biological reductionism—along with the rigid rules of religion and philosophy—and compellingly argues that morality is culturally crafted to meet the demands of human life. Written with elegance, subtlety, and deep learning lightly worn, this is one of those rare books that will enlighten and fascinate novices and experts alike.
It is also a unique and valuable bridge between neuroscience and philosophy. Greenspan, Kavli Institute for Brain and Mind, University of California, San Diego "With a series of examples, [Churchland] rejects the idea that morality is a set of rules and codes handed down from on high, without which we would all behave badly.
Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality
Churchland "Braintrust Churchland, a fitting term for the accomplished author and philosopher. This page book is composed of the following eight chapters: 1. Introduction, 2. Brain-Based Values, 3.
Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality
Reviews 27 What is morality? Where does it come from? And why do most of us heed its call most of the time? In Braintrust, neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain. Moral values, Churchland argues, are rooted in a behavior common to all mammals — the caring for offspring.
Share on mail There is a host of puzzling questions about where moral values come from - most of which have been debated for more than 2, years. Is morality drawn from a lawgiver God, for instance, so that if God is dead then anything is permitted? Or is it grounded in inborn behavioural dispositions, or virtues, naturally possessed by all human beings? Perhaps our moral values spring from intuitions about "the good" that give us knowledge about ethical reality, much as vision offers knowledge about physical reality? Or perhaps knowledge has nothing to do with it, since moral values are merely objectively unanchored habits picked up from a bewildering variety of cultures, no one of which is in principle preferable to any other? But the puzzle that concerns her above all is whether morality can be explained or justified by science. If it can, then several disciplines are potentially relevant: evolutionary psychology, social and cognitive psychology, cultural anthropology and even neuroscience.