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Patricia S. Many of our ebooks are available through library electronic resources including these platforms:. 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.
The result is a provocative genealogy of morals that asks us to reevaluate the priority given to religion, absolute rules, and pure reason in accounting for the basis of morality.
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. A key part of the story is oxytocin, an ancient body-and-brain molecule that, by decreasing the stress response, allows humans to develop the trust in one another necessary for the development of close-knit ties, social institutions, and morality.
Churchland is also 'biological' about morality, seeing it as an adaptation that our brains have evolved in order to cement social ties. 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. Mathis, Science. The puzzle that concerns [Churchland] above all is whether morality can be explained or justified by science. Boden, Times Higher Education. 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.
In many ways it will probably complement The Moral Landscape because it deals clearly with some of the critiques made of Sam's approach. Particularly those made by scientists and non-religious philosophers.
And the time is ripe for this sort of coverage. But don't expect tight definitions of either term, let alone a didactic treatise on human evolution. Instead, sit back and let Churchland run her ideas past you. She's so chatty you'll never guess the University of California, San Diego, philosopher is associated with a school of thought called eliminative materialism.
Don't ask. Even a philosopher friend was fuzzy on the details. She's just plain interesting. But now, with a new book, Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality , she is taking her perspective into fresh terrain: ethics.
And the story she tells about morality is, as you'd expect, heavily biological, emphasizing the role of the peptide oxytocin, as well as related neurochemicals. 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.
Though Churchland's approach is cautious, it is convincing. Braintrust is a welcome addition to the interdisciplinary literature bridging the chasm said to exist between 'is and ought,' epitomized by the Natural Fallacy. Patricia Churchland once again leads the way. 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. Braintrust Patricia S. Churchland Preface by Patricia S. Churchland Series: Princeton Science Library.
Overview Author s Reviews 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.
Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality
Patricia S. ISBN: In Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality , Churchland asks where values come from, and incorporates biological sciences with philosophy to answer the related moral questions. In the first chapter, Churchland criticizes current conceptions of morality by asking why there are still unanswered fundamental questions in the field, including questions surrounding the nature of fairness. She suggests that we can answer some of the remaining moral questions by combining new findings in neuroscience, evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, and genetics within a philosophical framework. In the second chapter, Churchland emphasizes the intricate neural circuitry of the pain and reward system corresponding to the painfulness of separation and the pleasure of company.