maandag 26 september 2011

How the mind makes morals

Vandaag in mijn mailbox de aankondiging van de Tiende jaarlijkse William D. Hamilton Memorial Lecture. Patricia S. Churchland is de spreekster en de lezing heeft als titel How the Mind Makes Morals. In de samenvatting staan de huidige wetenschappelijke inzichten in de aard en de ontwikkeling van moraliteit zo helder en bondig opgeschreven, dat ik niet kan nalaten hem hier te citeren:
An honored tradition in moral philosophy depicts human moral behavior as unrelated to social behavior in nonhuman animals, and as relying on a uniquely human capacity to reason. Recent developments in the neuroscience of social bonding, the psychology of problem-solving, and the role of imitation in social behavior jointly suggest instead an approach to morality that meshes with evolutionary biology. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that rules are essential to moral behavior, rule-application is only occasionally a factor. According to the hypothesis on offer, the basic platform for morality is attachment and bonding, and the caring behavior motivated by such attachment. This hypothesis connects to a different, but currently unfashionable tradition, beginning with Aristotle’s ideas about social virtues, and David Hume’s 18th century ideas concerning “the moral sentiment”. One surprising outcome of the convergence of scientific approaches is that the revered dictum -- you cannot infer an ‘ought’ from an ‘is’ - looks dubious as a general rule restricting moral (practical) problem solving.
De lezing is op 27 oktober aan de University of New England in Biddeford (Maine).

Voor de volledigheid, dit is wat dezelfde mail meldt over de spreekster:
Patricia Smith Churchland, B.Phil., D.Litt (Hon.), LLD (Hon.) is professor emerita of philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, and an adjunct professor at the Salk Institute. Her research focuses on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy. She explores the impact of scientific developments on our understanding of consciousness, the self, free will, decision making, ethics, learning, and religion. She is author of the groundbreaking book, *Neurophilosophy* (MIT Press, 1986), co-author with T. J. Sejnowski of *The Computational Brain* (MIT Press, 1992),co-author with Paul Churchland of *On The Contrary* (MIT Press, 1998), *Brain-Wise*(MIT Press, 20020 and, most recently, *Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality* (Princeton University Press, 2011).Her current work focuses on morality and the social brain. She has been president of the American Philosophical Association and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and won a MacArthur Prize in 1991 and the Rossi Prize in 2008. She was chair of the Philosophy Department at U.C. San Diego from 2000-2007.

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