Utilitarian Decision or Random Decision? Critique of a Thesis Rooted in Cognitive Neuroscience

Ideas Y Valores 62 (153):179-199 (2013)
RESUMEN Diversos estudios han concluido que los pacientes con daño en la Corteza Frontal -CF- o Corteza Prefrontal Ventromedial -CPV- muestran una disposición a herir directamente a otra persona con el fin de salvar varias vidas en sus respuestas a los "dilemas morales personales", revelando una posible carencia de empatía. No obstante, cuando evalúan conductas carentes de empatía sin justificación utilitarista, sus respuestas son normales. Defendemos aquí que los pacientes sufren una deficiencia cognitiva relacionada con la hipótesis de marcador somático de Damasio y con juicios de valor. Criticamos la hipótesis del "paciente utilitarista", que se ha atrincherado en la neurociencia cognitiva. ABSTRACT In their answers to questions regarding "personal moral dilemmas", patients with lesions to the Frontal Cortex -FC- or Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex -vmPFC- display a disposition to directly injure another person in order to save lives, thus revealing a possible lack of empathy. However, their answers are normal when they evaluate behaviors lacking in empathy but without a utilitarian justification. We here defend that those patients suffer from a cognitive deficiency associated with Damasio's somatic marker hypothesis and with value judgments. The article critiques the "utilitarian patient" hypothesis that has become deeply rooted in cognitive neuroscience. RESUMO Diversos estudos têm concluído que os pacientes com danos no Córtex Frontal (CF) ou Córtex Pré-frontal Ventromedial (CPV) mostram uma disposição a ferir diretamente a outra pessoa com o objetivo de salvar várias vidas em suas respostas aos "dilemas morais pessoais", o que revela uma possível carência de empatia. Contudo, quando avaliam condutas carentes de empatia sem justificativa utilitarista, suas respostas são normais. Defendemos aqui que os pacientes sofrem uma deficiência cognitiva relacionada com a hipótese de marcador somático de Damásio e com juízos de valor. Criticamos a hipótese do "paciente utilitarista", que vem se refugiando na neurociência cognitiva
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