Neuroscience and Moral Reasoning

Walter Glannon

in Brain, Body, and Mind

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199734092
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894475 | DOI:
Neuroscience and Moral Reasoning

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This chapter examines claims by some cognitive psychologists conducting functional neuroimaging experiments about the neural basis of moral intuitions. It questions the idea that there are distinct cognitive and emotional subsystems in the brain driving utilitarian and deontological judgments. The chapter appeals to neuroscientific research showing that cognition and emotion are interacting processes mediated by overlapping neural systems distributed throughout the brain, Still, the reasons we adduce to justify actions depend not only on overlapping brain systems but also on social and cultural factors external to the brain.

Keywords: cognition; deontology; emotion; moral intuitions; moral justification; the trolley problem; utilitarianism

Chapter.  11646 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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