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Geoff Holtzman, "Emotion and Reason in the Moral Brain"

Wednesday, March 13, 2019, 03:30pm - 04:30pm

RuCCS, Psych A128, Busch Campus

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Please join us this week for two one-hour seminar style presentations aimed at an undergraduate student audience on cool topics.

Talk by Geoff Holtzman -


Emotion and Reason in the Moral Brain

Can neuroscientists peer into the brain and see the different roles emotion and reason play in moral judgment? Not exactly. However, there has been a boom of exciting new research in the neuroscience of moral judgment over the past two decades. During this time, researchers have converged on a number of key points about the cognitive science of ethical decision-making. I focus on three of these key points, discussing what we know—and what we do not know—about them.

First, I describe how different kinds of moral judgment appear to require oxygen to be delivered to different areas of the brain. Second, I show that the way oxygen is delivered to the brain during ethical decision-making can be connected to the theories of 18th-century moral philosophers. And third, I explain why using neuroimages to infer mental activity—a process known as “reverse inference”—is one of the thorniest logical issues in neuroethics and moral psychology.