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Neuroscience: Morality for neurons


(My latest MercatorNet column reviews an  attempt to refound morality on a  materialist basis: Commonsense notions of the mind must be abandoned in favor of a purely brain-based approach because we are our neurons:

Churchland is partial to a theory that morality originates in the oxytocin-vasopressin network in mammals. One outcome is stunners like this: “The social life of humans, whether in hunter-gatherer villages, farming towns, or cities, seems to be even more complex than that of baboons or chimpanzees.”

Now, why in the world would that be?

We never get a clear idea how Churchland think morality works, though we do get more than a glimpse of her politics.

Go here for more.

The problem is not that a materialist cannot distinguish between good and evil, rather it is that all ethical distinctions are subjective and based on brain states (pleasure/pain). Materialists tend to be pragmatists or utilitarians not anarchists. Of course this means that you can lie, cheat, and steal as long as you do not get caught and do not feel bad about it. It also means you can engage in any type of sexual activity that makes you feel good. And most importantly, anyone who interferes in any way with your pursuit of pleasure can be silenced by any means necessary. Welcome to the modern world! Lamont
Neurons for morons is more like it. Imagine anyone with a rational mind trying to explain an immaterial phenomenon (morality) in material terms (neurons). How absurd on the face of it. These people are not to be reasoned with. They reject reason even as they trumpet themselves as paragons of reason. Gaaaaah. tgpeeler

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