“Conscience: The Origins of Moral Intuition” is a thought-provoking book written by Patricia Churchland, a renowned philosopher and neuroscientist. Published in 2019, the book explores the origins of human morality from a scientific and philosophical perspective.
Churchland delves into the complex nature of morality, seeking to uncover its evolutionary origins and the role of the brain in shaping moral intuitions. She argues that our moral judgments and intuitions are not derived from abstract reasoning or divine sources, but rather emerge from our brains’ capacity for empathy, social bonding, and cooperation.
Drawing upon the latest research in neuroscience and evolutionary biology, Churchland highlights the interconnectedness between our biological makeup and our moral behavior. She examines how the brain processes moral information, including emotions, values, and social norms, and how these processes contribute to our moral decision-making.
The book also explores the relationship between morality and the broader field of ethics. Churchland engages with various philosophical theories and ethical frameworks, including consequentialism, deontology, and virtue ethics, offering a neuroscientific perspective on their foundations and implications.
Throughout “Conscience,” Churchland challenges traditional views of morality as solely based on reason or cultural norms. Instead, she presents a compelling argument for understanding morality as an adaptive feature of human evolution, rooted in our biology and shaped by our social interactions.
By bridging the gap between neuroscience, philosophy, and ethics, Churchland encourages readers to rethink their understanding of moral intuitions and consider the scientific basis for our moral judgments. Her book provides a stimulating exploration of the origins of conscience, shedding light on the fundamental questions surrounding human morality and offering a fresh perspective on the nature of right and wrong.