Much recent research has sought to uncover the neural basis of moral judgment. However, it has remained unclear whether "moral judgments" are sufficiently homogenous to be studied scientifically as a unified category. We tested this assumption by using fMRI to examine the neural correlates of moral judgments within three moral areas: (physical) harm, dishonesty, and (sexual) disgust. We found that the judgment ofmoral wrongness was subserved by distinct neural systems for each of the different moral areas and that these differences (...) were much more robust than differences in wrongness judgments within a moral area. Dishonest, disgusting, and harmful moral transgression recruited networks of brain regions associated with mentalizing, affective processing, and action understanding, respectively. Dorsal medial pFC was the only region activated by all scenarios judged to be morally wrong in comparison with neutral scenarios. However, this region was also activated by dishonest and harmful scenarios judged not to be morally wrong, suggestive of a domain-general role that is neither peculiar to nor predictive of moral decisions. These results suggest that moral judgment is not a wholly unified faculty in the human brain, but rather, instantiated in dissociable neural systems that are engaged differentially depending on the type of transgression being judged. (shrink)
Philosophers and social scientists have focussed a great deal of attention on our human capacity to trust, but relatively little on the capacity to hope. This is a significant oversight, as hope and trust are importantly interconnected. This paper argues that, even though trust can and does feed our hopes, it is our empowering capacity to hope that significantly underwrites—and makes rational—our capacity to trust.
The broad issue in this paper is the relationship between cognitive psychology and neuroscience. That issue arises particularly sharply for cognitive neurospsychology, some of whose practitioners claim a methodological autonomy for their discipline. They hold that behavioural data from neuropsychological impairments are sufficient to justify assumptions about the underlying modular structure of human cognitive architecture, as well as to make inferences about its various components. But this claim to methodological autonomy can be challenged on both philosophical and empirical grounds. A (...) priori considerations about (cognitive) multiple realisability challenge the thesis on philosophical grounds, and neuroscientific findings from developmental disorders substantiate that challenge empirically. The conclusion is that behavioural evidence alone is inadequate for scientific progress since appearances of modularity can be thoroughly deceptive, obscuring both the dynamic processes of neural development and the endstate network architecture of real cognitive systems. (shrink)
Although I am broadly in sympathy with Carpendale & Lewis's (C&L's) version of social constructivism, I raise two issues they might address. One bears on the question of how social understanding develops: Is their resistance to individualism inappropriately combined with a resistance to internalism? A second question concerns a more radical implication of their view for what social understanding is.
What is hope? Though variously characterized as a cognitive attitude, an emotion, a disposition, and even a process or activity, hope, more deeply, a unifying and grounding force of human agency. We cannot live a human life without hope, therefore questions about the rationality of hope are properly recast as questions about what it means to hope well. This thesis is defended and elaborated as follows. First, it is argued that hope is an essential and distinctive feature of human agency, (...) both conceptually and developmentally. The author then explores a number of dimensions of agency that are critically implicated in the art of hoping well, drawing on several examples from George Eliot’s Middlemarch. The article concludes with a short section that suggests how hoping well in an individual context may be extended to hope at the collective level. (shrink)
This paper examines developing trust in two related senses: (1) rationally overcoming distrust, and (2) developing a mature capacity for trusting/distrusting. In focussing exclusively on the first problem, traditional philosophical discussions fail to address how an evidence- based paradigm of rationality is easily co-opted by (immature) agents in support of irrational distrust (or trust) - a manifestation of the second problem. Well-regulated trust requires developing a capacity to tolerate the uncertainties that chracterise relationships among fully autonomous self-directed agents. Early relationships (...) lack this uncertainty since care-givers take primary responsibility for determining a child's interests, reducing the scope (if not the intensity) of potential conflict between self and other. Once agents recognize that adulthood demands foregoing the security embedded in such relationships of dependency, they are free to embrace a more appropriate paradigm of rationality for guiding their thought and action in interactions with others. (shrink)