Philosophy and Neuroscience in Moral Reasoning

The analysis of moral reasoning and surrounding topics – how do we form moral judgments? how do they influence behavior? how do we assess virtuous versus malicious actions? – is a classical problem of moral philosophy (ethics) since antiquity. More recently, moral psychologists started tackling those problems using a descriptive, empirically based approach. Still more recently, people started investigating the impact of results in neuroscience for the foundations of moral reasoning.

The course is an introduction to the essential issues arising at the interface of neuroscience, moral psychology, and moral philosophy. We shall explore problems concerning the biological and neural basis of moral thinking, the role of emotions in moral reasoning, and the significance of empirical results for normative theories of morality.

(NB: the course deals with one branch of so-called neuroethics, i.e., “the neuroscience of ethics”; if you are interested (also) in the other branch, “the ethics of neuroscience”, see the IMT course on “Philosophical and Ethical Themes in Neuroscience”.)