Moral and Neuroscience

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Neuroscience, according to both philosophers and scientists, offers a perfect foundation for understanding and improving morality. Bernard Gert discusses the work of three scholars who support the claim that neuroscience is an excellent basis for learning and improving. Kwame Anthony Appiah, Sam Harris, and Patricia Churchland are the three authors (Gert 22). Despite the fact that their work varies in style and content to some degree, the writers hold high regard for John Stuart Mill and are less critical of John Rawls than other philosophers. Thy is a skeptic of moral intuitions, but he is intrigued by the significance of framing results. However, none of the three writers' work is in the field of bioethics. The following academic paper seeks to support that argument that neuroscience is a batter foundation for understanding as well as improving molarity. It will use the works of Appiah, Churchland and Harris to support the argument (Gert 22).

Anthony Appiah

In his work, Experiments in Ethics, Appiah tries to show that the existing distinction between science and philosophy is because of forgetting the empirical work that was done by the great philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Descartes, Kant, Mill, and Aristotle. He argues that those who view philosophy as a conceptual analysis tend to forget or choose only a portion of what the great philosophers had discussed while regarding the rest of the piece as irrelevant to philosophy (Gert 23). Naturalism is a branch of philosophy that has brought science back into philosophy. Naturalists emphasize the importance of showing that philosophical accounts of morality can be derived in scientific accounts of how morality is developed. Appiah argues that even those who oppose naturalism acknowledge that the philosophical account of molarity should be consistent with scientific findings that relate to the matter at hand. Besides, Appiah argues that psychology proves to be a challenge to those who rely on intuition to form moral theories. For instance, he criticizes David Ross who argue that the moral convictions pf people who are thoughtful and well educated constitute the data for ethics in the same way sense perception constitute data for natural science (Gert 23). Besides, Appiah argues that Rawls model which attempts to refine our moral intuitions by attempting to reach an equilibrium between our moral theories and moral intuitions are significantly flawed. He criticizes Rawls for failing to identify those people who share intuitions. He uses the idea of framing effects that was developed by Kahneman and Tversky to show that different people have different morals intuitions in given similar situations.
Appiah gives a significant distinction between moral and ethics. To him, ethics can be used to explain human flourishing or what it entails a life well lived while morality is a constraint that governs us on how we should or should not treat other people. However, this description of molarity being a constraint ignores Appiah's distinction of between what is morally praiseworthy and what is morally obligatory (Gert 23). Besides, Appiah is the only philosopher in the world who explains that the emergency of an action is relevant to the decision one makes. He gives an example of physicians who are attending a person in an emergency are allowed to act even contrary to what has been provided in bioethics as long as it is about saving the life of the patient. For instance, doctors are not allowed to stop attending to a patient in order to go and attend to a patient who seems to be in a more serious condition (Gert 24). However, during an emergency, the doctor is allowed to practice triage in which he or she should determine the patient who is likely to benefit from medical care even if it means leaving another patient. Besides, doctors are required to obtain the consent of a patient before administering any treatment. However, in the case of an emergency, the doctor may go ahead and treat the patient even without his or her consent since it is his or her life that is at stake.
Appiah also explains that it is morally relevant to harm someone intentionally and doing it knowingly. A public policy that supports harming people intentionally has negative consequences than one that supports harming others knowingly (Gert 25). Such an argument does not depend on any scientific discoveries but rather on the recognition that morality is a system to fallible, vulnerable and biased individuals. This explains that it is not acceptable to violate moral rules unless one is willing for everyone to know that they are allowed to violate the rule in a similar situation. Appiah is skeptical about using science to provide a procedure for decision making. Although he advocates for the use of neuroscience to determine the molarity of an action, Appiah acknowledges that science cannot adequately provide a unique correct answer about the best way in which human beings should act (Gert 25). He concludes that science is relevant to molarity since it provides information that can be relied on determining the ways in which people can act best without harming others.

Sam Harris

Harris holds that there is a strong relationship between molarity and science. He bases his argument on the premise that the wellbeing of a person is entirely dependent on events in the world as well as the state of the human brain. He says that science is the most accurate way of finding of human beings and the state of the world and the events of the world and the state of mind. Harris supports neuroscience as the best foundation for molarity understanding and improving it. This is evident in his claim that primacy of neuroscience, as well as other sciences on mind about the question of human being molarity, is an aspect that should not be denied. Harris does not distinguish ethics and molarity saying that they are terms used interchangeably to explain our deliberate thinking about important matters or issues of molarity. His reason for not giving a distinction is that what should be given any value is the well-being of a person and it should be the ultimate goal of molarity (Gert 26). Harris explains that although all human beings are not equivalent, it is only rational to act in such a way that shows the value of all human beings and that is the reason why institutions, as well as the society, ignore the differences between people. According to Harris, if we acted in a different way without ignoring the differences between people, then the world would be a different place and would probably affect the wellbeing of human beings. On the other hand, Harris responds to the criticism of consequentialism by saying that the disparity between our commitment to safeguard our personal interest and to prevent unnecessary misery and deaths cannot be morally justified (Gert 26). Harris is focused on showing that science is the best guide to morality than religion and that is why he does not appreciate the universal agreement of what accounts to be harm.

Patricia Churchland

Churchland argues that evolution does not sufficiently explain what is special about human beings. She says that if mammals were to pass their genes, then it would be that they can do anything to protect their offspring including sacrificing their life to save that of their children. She holds that differing gratification involves consciousness because many animals engage in social behavior that she considers similar to human ethics or morality (Gert 27). She acknowledges two important aspects addressed by Mill in which he argues that the moral sphere is fundamentally about conduct that injures, damages, or harms others or their interests. Injurious conduct, such as assault and murder, is wrong and is punishable. Conduct that falls outside this domain should be neither restricted nor deemed wrong. Secondly, Mill claims that issues of self-defense and hence morality are tightly tied to issues concerning acceptable restriction on personal liberty (Gert 28). She criticizes maximizing consequentialists, such as philosopher Peter Singer, who argue that maximizing the happiness of all requires that we do much more than considering the consequences of a plan for the happiness of those near and dear.


Appiah, Harris, and Churchland put forward quite different perspectives about the relationship between science and morality. Appiah holds the moderate view that science is useful in challenging common moral intuitions and in helping us avoid the harms that we all want to avoid; science does not provide us with new ends or values (Gert 28). Harris claims that neuroscience shows that “suffering and happiness (defined in the widest possible sense) are all that can be cared about” and concludes that neuroscience supports a version of act consequentialism very similar to that put forward by Peter Singer (Gert 28). Churchland criticizes Harris for not recognizing that what neuroscience shows about human beings might require morality to be more complex than act consequentialism. Conclusively, neuroscience may help explain why some people behave as they do in situations that call for moral decisions or judgments.

Works Cited

Gert, Bernard. "Neuroscience and Morality." Hastings Center Report 42.3 (2012): 22-28.

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