ISBN: 9780262327589 | 344 pp. | March 2015

The Moral Brain

A Multidisciplinary Perspective

Over the past decade, an explosion of empirical research in a variety of fields has allowed us to understand human moral sensibility as a sophisticated integration of cognitive, emotional, and motivational mechanisms shaped through evolution, development, and culture. Evolutionary biologists have shown that moral cognition evolved to aid cooperation; developmental psychologists have demonstrated that the elements that underpin morality are in place much earlier than we thought; and social neuroscientists have begun to map brain circuits implicated in moral decision making. This volume offers an overview of current research on the moral brain, examining the topic from disciplinary perspectives that range from anthropology and neurophilosophy to justice and law.

The contributors address the evolution of morality, considering precursors of human morality in other species as well as uniquely human adaptations. They examine motivations for morality, exploring the roles of passion, extreme sacrifice, and cooperation. They go on to consider the development of morality, from infancy to adolescence; findings on neurobiological mechanisms of moral cognition; psychopathic immorality; and the implications for justice and law of a more biological understanding of morality. These new findings may challenge our intuitions about society and justice, but they may also lead to more a humane and flexible legal system.

Scott Atran, Abigail A. Baird, Nicolas Baumard, Sarah Brosnan, Jason M. Cowell, Molly J. Crockett, Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza, Andrew W. Delton, Mark R. Dadds, Jean Decety, Jeremy Ginges, Andrea L. Glenn, Joshua D. Greene, J. Kiley Hamlin, David J. Hawes, Jillian Jordan, Max M. Krasnow, Ayelet Lahat, Jorge Moll, Caroline Moul, Thomas Nadelhoffer, Alexander Peysakhovich, Laurent Prétôt, Jesse Prinz, David G. Rand, Rheanna J. Remmel, Emma Roellke, Regina A. Rini, Joshua Rottman, Mark Sheskin, Thalia Wheatley, Liane Young, Roland Zahn

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: The Complexity of Moral Cognition Requires Multiple and Converging Levels of Analyses
  2. I. Evolution of Morality
  3. 1. The Evolution of Morality: A Comparative Approach

    Laurent Prétôt and Sarah Brosnan

  4. 2. Adaptationist Approaches to Moral Psychology

    Andrew W. Delton and Max M. Krasnow

  5. 3. Partner Choice and the Evolution of a Contractualist Morality

    Nicolas Baumard and Mark Sheskin

  6. II. Motivations of Morality
  7. 4. Is the Moral Brain Ever Dispassionate?

    Jesse Prinz

  8. 5. Devoted Actors and the Moral Foundations of Intractable Intergroup Conflict

    Scott Atran and Jeremy Ginges

  9. 6. Why We Cooperate

    Jillian Jordan, Alexander Peysakhovich, and David G. Rand

  10. III. The Development of Morality
  11. 7. The Infantile Origins of Our Moral Brains

    J. Kiley Hamlin

  12. 8. Mechanisms of Moral Development

    Joshua Rottman and Liane Young

  13. 9. The Neurocognitive Development of Moral Judgments: The Role of Executive Function

    Ayelet Lahat

  14. 10. Girl Uninterrupted: The Neural Basis of Moral Development among Adolescent Females

    Abigail A. Baird and Emma V. Roellke

  15. IV. The Affective and Social Neuroscience of Morality
  16. 11. Neural Correlates of Human Morality: An Overview

    Ricardo de Oliveira-Souza, Roland Zahn, and Jorge Moll

  17. 12. The Cognitive Neuroscience of Moral Judgment and Decision Making

    Joshua D. Greene

  18. 13. Neuromodulators and the (In)stability of Moral Cognition

    Molly J. Crockett and Regina A. Rini

  19. V. Psychopathic Immorality
  20. 14. Immorality in the Adult Brain

    Rheanna J. Remmel and Andrea L. Glenn

  21. 15. The Moral Brain: Psychopathology

    Caroline Moul, David Hawes, and Mark Dadds

  22. VI. Considerations and Implications for Justice and Law
  23. 16. Neuroscience versus Phenomenology and the Implications for Justice

    Thalia Wheatley

  24. 17. The Equivocal Relationship between Morality and Empathy

    Jean Decety and Jason M. Cowell

  25. Contributors
  26. Author Index
  27. Subject Index