There is a forthcoming conference in March at College of the Holy Cross on Neuroscience, Evolution, and Morality. See here for more details.
How does what we are learning about the brain through neuroscience and evolutionary science influence how we ought to think about ethics? Recent advances in functional neuroimaging have increased scientists’ understanding of how our brains process moral decisions. Some thinkers suggest that moral decision making is fundamentally an intuitive or emotional process, and that what we call “reason” is a post-decision making method of justification for actions, not a “higher order” process for making decisions. If so, the new science challenges the principle of free will, the argument that reason is the foundation of moral decision making, and the importance of understanding intentions before judging responsibility for action. The potential implications for most Western ethical traditions are enormous.
This two-day conference will bring together some of the world’s leading neuroscientists, moral psychologists, ethicists, including:
- Kenote speaker Michael Gazzaniga, professor of psychology and the director for the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, University of California Santa Barbara;
- Patrick Haggard, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London;
- Ethicist Robert Kane '60, University Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas at Austin;
- Marc Hauser, Cognitive Evolution Laboratory, Harvard University;
- Joshua Greene, Moral Cognition Lab, Harvard University;
- Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, professor of philosophy and Hardy Professor of Legal Studies, Dartmouth College, and co-director of the The MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project
- Anne Harrington, professor and chair, History of Science, Harvard University
- James Blair, chief of the Unit on Affective Cognitive Neuroscience in the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program, National Institute of Mental Health
- Jeanette Kennett, Department of Philosophy and Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, Macquarie University, Australia
- Stephen J. Pope, professor of theology, Boston College
- Rachana Kamtekar, associate professor of philosophy, University of Arizona