Mind-Brain Lecture: Nicholas Shackel (Cardiff/Oxford)
Neuroscience has in recent years turned to investigating moral judgement. On the basis of fMRI investigations some fairly strong claims about the neural basis of utilitarian and non-utilitarian moral choices have been appearing in the literature. Many of these claims have been taken up by some moral philosophers for the purpose of philosophical argumentation. I shall review some of this research, raising some questions about whether the context and the methodology allow us to interpret the evidence in terms of the moral theories of subjects. I shall then present some of the results from the fMRI and behavioural studies that I and my colleagues at Oxford have been conducting. We have improved the methodology and on that basis believe that we have identified better candidates for the neural basis and the psychological correlates of moral judgements. We have also identified an important biomarker of a certain feature of moral judgement and its relation to certain psychological traits and deviant moral judgement.
Dr Nicholas Shackel, Department of Philosophy, ENCAP, University of Cardiff; and Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford.