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Neuroscientist Alters Moral Judgments


Mriana
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I guess this works here.

 

Neuroscientist alters moral judgments

 

There is a link to a TED Talk video there, called Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other's minds. It deals with cognitive neuroscience.

 

Description of video on TED:

 

Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions.

 

Back to the original article:

 

Rebecca Saxe has discovered a specific location in the brain that is used when we think about other people's minds. By disrupting this region with magnetic waves, she can make it more difficult to see things from other people's point of view, which had the effect in one experiment of changing people's judgments as to the moral blame assigned to one a hypothetical case of accidental murder.

 

I'm not so sure I would want to do this on people. Sounds a bit frightening, at least the way this guy presents it, but the video isn't so bad. Even so, the guy who talked to her at the end of the video said it sounds alarming, which was my first reaction too when I read the Examiner author's description. So, I wasn't the only one who was disturbed by it at first.

 

Saxe goes forward in her talk, to explain how disrupting that special region of the brain made people even more likely to assign blame to Grace in the "accidental" case. In fact, she shows a chart whereby people who displayed more activity in the brain region used to consider other people's thoughts were less likely to assign blame to Grace.

 

This highlights the shortcomings of ethical systems based on consequentialism. It has seemed to me that systems which really "get" what ethics is all about, refer to the inner motivations of the moral agent as the ultimate measure of moral praiseworthiness or blame. While we can't always know these in pragmatic terms, we can know them about ourselves, and understanding that point has an impact on how we self regulate our own moral behavior such that ends do not justify means (or intent).

 

It is interesting to say the least.

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This highlights the shortcomings of ethical systems based on consequentialism. It has seemed to me that systems which really "get" what ethics is all about, refer to the inner motivations of the moral agent as the ultimate measure of moral praiseworthiness or blame. While we can't always know these in pragmatic terms, we can know them about ourselves, and understanding that point has an impact on how we self regulate our own moral behavior such that ends do not justify means (or intent).

 

It is interesting to say the least.

I don't think the above paragraph is right.

 

This would make Abraham a praiseworthy person, even if he had killed Isaac. It would make everyone killing for God or whoever ethical.

 

It goes to the defense, "He/She/We meant well." It may mitigate the punishment, but it does not excuse bad behavior or tragic consequences.

 

I can't really elaborate much right now, but there are many circumstances where inner motivations may be inherently good, but outcomes or methods are really bad. Like killing someone for the life insurance money to donate to charity. "Awww, he's such a good guy."

 

This framework for morality epitomizes "The ends justify the means."

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This highlights the shortcomings of ethical systems based on consequentialism. It has seemed to me that systems which really "get" what ethics is all about, refer to the inner motivations of the moral agent as the ultimate measure of moral praiseworthiness or blame. While we can't always know these in pragmatic terms, we can know them about ourselves, and understanding that point has an impact on how we self regulate our own moral behavior such that ends do not justify means (or intent).

 

It is interesting to say the least.

I don't think the above paragraph is right.

 

This would make Abraham a praiseworthy person, even if he had killed Isaac. It would make everyone killing for God or whoever ethical.

 

It goes to the defense, "He/She/We meant well." It may mitigate the punishment, but it does not excuse bad behavior or tragic consequences.

 

I can't really elaborate much right now, but there are many circumstances where inner motivations may be inherently good, but outcomes or methods are really bad. Like killing someone for the life insurance money to donate to charity. "Awww, he's such a good guy."

 

This framework for morality epitomizes "The ends justify the means."

 

 

I said it was interesting, but I did not say it was right. However, as you pointed out, it could explain Fundamngelical thinking. Such thinking as been pretty well twisted and warp.

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I said it was interesting, but I did not say it was right. However, as you pointed out, it could explain Fundamngelical thinking. Such thinking as been pretty well twisted and warp.

I didn't mean for my response to reflect on you. I was referring only to the passage. It's missing a major part of what makes human society work.

 

But I agree, it is interesting.

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Oh OK. I wasn't sure what you meant, but yes I do agree with you. However, I do think it could be applied to Fundies.

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Very interesting, but again goes to show how things in our mind that cannot be repeated outside of ourselves are very subjective to brain activity. Which, for me, is another nail in the coffin for religion in general.

 

But it does explain how the whole idea of "the end justifies the means" operates.

 

ETA: I just watched the video - even more interesting! Since my hubby just went through "Evolve Your Brain" this is pretty applicable to some things I've been considering!

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