Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisorWalker, Simon
dc.contributor.advisorPickering, Neil
dc.contributor.advisorFranz, Elizabeth
dc.contributor.authorWhittington, Finn Isaac Knapp
dc.date.available2019-09-25T04:26:20Z
dc.date.copyright2019
dc.identifier.citationWhittington, F. I. K. (2019). Rational Reflection and An Integrative Account of Moral Cognition (Thesis, Bachelor of Medical Science with Honours). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/9635en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10523/9635
dc.description.abstractThis thesis is about the relationship between the brain and morality. In the last two decades there has been a rapid growth in the neuroscience and psychology of morality, such that a new a field has emerged called “moral cognition”. However, much of this study is reductive in nature and philosophically uninformed. The aim of this thesis is to discuss the need for an account of moral cognition that is integrative in its character and interdisciplinary in its approach. The current neuroscientific literature shows that moral cognition operates as a physically integrated network. No single part of the brain is solely responsible for moral processing. This raises the question of how the various regions and processes found to be associated with moral cognition function together. In particular, do some processes such as emotion or reason take precedence over the other? To answer these questions a neuroscience informed by moral philosophy is required. Indeed, the study of moral cognition is necessarily dependent on moral philosophical theories, as a notion of what counts as “morality” is required prior to any study, in order to give the study a clear focus. Some of the key figures in the current study of moral cognition are aware of this, and often explicitly take up philosophical presuppositions. However, they do so in cursory ways. Furthermore, current neuroscientific techniques are unable to describe the temporal and holistic nature of moral cognition. Any analysis which relies solely on these techniques is missing normal aspects of moral thinking. Therefore, neuroscience can only be part of an interdisciplinary approach. A theoretical neuroscience informed by a nuanced moral philosophy is needed to start to approach a description of the relationship between the brain and morality. This relationship between neuroscience and moral science can be characterised as involving two perspectives. The scientific perspective brings with it an explanatory account, and is concerned with causal descriptions of brain processes underlying moral behaviour. At the same time, a nuanced moral philosophy inevitably identifies the significance of a first person or agent perspective. From this perspective morality involves a sense of obligation – it recognises that morality is normative. Neuroscience cannot describe morality from a first-person or normative perspective, but the normative aspects of morality cannot be discounted. In this thesis the moral philosophy of Christine Korsgaard is discussed as it is particularly effective in introducing the first-person or normative account of morality and has the advantage of a neuroscientifically plausible view of reason and reflection. The thesis will finish with an exercise of interdisciplinary analysis, where neuroscience can reciprocally inform moral philosophy. I will discuss key aspects of Korsgaard’s theory in the light of contemporary themes in current neuroscience. Specifically, I discuss how her understanding of rational reflection is both supported and moderated by the work of contemporary neuroscience, particularly the work of Antonio Damasio. I also show how her theory and neuroscience can jointly explain the integration of emotion and reason in moral judgement.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectMorality
dc.subjectMoral Cognition
dc.subjectMoral Judgement
dc.subjectNeuroscience
dc.subjectReason
dc.subjectReflection
dc.subjectChristine Korsgaard
dc.subjectAntonio Damasio
dc.subjectIntegrative
dc.subjectIntegrative network
dc.titleRational Reflection and An Integrative Account of Moral Cognition
dc.typeThesis
dc.date.updated2019-09-25T04:01:03Z
dc.language.rfc3066en
thesis.degree.disciplineBioethics Centre
thesis.degree.nameBachelor of Medical Science with Honours
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Otago
thesis.degree.levelHonours
otago.openaccessOpen
otago.evidence.presentYes
 Find in your library

Files in this item

Thumbnail

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record