Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality (Google eBook)

Front Cover
Princeton University Press, Feb 1, 2011 - Psychology - 288 pages
16 Reviews

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. She describes the "neurobiological platform of bonding" that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior. 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.

Moral values, Churchland argues, are rooted in a behavior common to all mammals--the caring for offspring. The evolved structure, processes, and chemistry of the brain incline humans to strive not only for self-preservation but for the well-being of allied selves--first offspring, then mates, kin, and so on, in wider and wider "caring" circles. 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.

A major new account of what really makes us moral, Braintrust challenges us to reconsider the origins of some of our most cherished values.

  

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Review: Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality

User Review  - Matt - Goodreads

This was a good overview of neurobiological bases of morality, so far as current science can tell us that there is a "why?" to certain types of social behavior in human beings. Fans of neurowhatsits ... Read full review

Review: Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality

User Review  - Judith Moore - Goodreads

Got bored with it. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
BrainBased Values
12
Caring and Caring For
27
Cooperating and Trusting
63
Networking Genes Brains and Behavior
95
Skills for a Social Life
118
Not as a Rule
163
Religion and Morality
191
Notes
205
Bibliography
235
Acknowledgments
259
Index
261
Copyright

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About the author (2011)

Patricia S. 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". In 1991, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.

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