The Neuroscience of Moral Decision-Making

By gjones, published at 4 September 2007 - 4:52am, last updated 9 years 33 weeks ago.

I read a post on Mind Hacks today (http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2007/09/radiolab_on_the_scie.html) that lead me to an episode (http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2006/04/28) of WNYC RadioLab dealing with the psychology and neuroscience of morality. The show is not new, but if you haven't heard it, it's well worth downloading the MP3 for a listen during commute.

The first part of the show features Marc Hauser and Josh Greene, psychologists from Harvard, and my friend and colleague, Frans de Waal, the primatologist from Emory's Yerkes Primate Center here in Atlanta. Hauser and Greene's fMRI studies of moral decision-making (in such philosophical thought experiments as the trolley problem) and Frans' ideas about the role of empathy in cooperation among his monkeys offer some insights into evolved mechanisms that are at the very core of what it means to be social beings.