On HumansOctober 01, 202201:07:4061.96 MB

1 | Origins of Our Warm-Blooded Morality ~ Patricia Churchland

Why do we care for others? Why did morality evolve? Is unselfish behaviour possible in a Darwinian world?

Patricia Churchland joins us to discuss these topics with your host, Ilari Mäkelä.

Author of Conscience: Origins of Moral Intuition, Patricia Churchland is an emerita professor of Philosophy at UC San Diego.

Ilari and Professor Churchland discuss topics such as:

  1. Warm-bloodedness and morality
  2. Psychological egoism vs unselfish behaviour
  3. Neurobiology of care: Oxytocin, cannabinoids, opioids
  4. Elements of morality: How much of morality is about care, vs problem-solving, cooperation, and social learning?
  5. Churchland’s criticism of Western moral philosophy
  6. Neurophilosophy: is studying the brain all that useful?
  7. Free will: does studying the brain show that free will does not exist?

Technical terms mentioned:

  • Endothermy (i.e. warm-bloodedness)
  • Cortex
  • Oxytocin, vasopressin
  • Endogenous opioids and cannabinoids
  • Utilitarian ethics
  • Kantian ethics (i.e. deontology)
  • Metta meditation
  • Vitalism

Names mentioned:

  1. Christophe Boesch (chimpanzee adoption)
  2. Peggy Mason (helping behaviour in rats)
  3. Sue Carter (oxytocin and stress)
  4. David Hume & Adam Smith
  5. Mencius (early Confucian philosopher) [For Ilari’s article on Mencius, see An Empirical Argument for Mencius' Theory of Human Nature
  6. The Dalai Lama (H.H. the 14th)
  7. Simon Blackburn (contemporary Cambridge philosopher)
  8. Dan Bowling (placebo and oxytocin)
  9. Olivia Goldhill (review of Conscience for the New York Times)
  10. Lidija Haas (review of Conscience for the Harper Magazine)

Other scholars to follow (Churchland’s recommendations)

Topics in this interview

  • Frans de Waal
  • Owen Flanagan

Philosophy & neuroscience more generally

  • Nick Lane (genetics and evolution)
  • Ann-Sophie Barwich (neurophilosophy of smell)
  • Gregory Berns (soon to appear on the podcast)
  • Ned Block (philosophy of cognition)
philosophy ,evolutionary ethics,morality,neurobiology,