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The myth of the moral brain : the limits of moral enhancement / Harris Wiseman.

  • Wiseman, Harris
  • Books

About this work


"Throughout history, humanity has been seen as being in need of improvement, most pressingly in need of moral improvement. Today, in what has been called the beginnings of "the golden age of neuroscience," laboratory findings claim to offer insights into how the brain "does" morality, even suggesting that it is possible to make people more moral by manipulating their biology. Can "moral bioenhancement"--Using technological or pharmaceutical means to boost the morally desirable and remove the morally problematic - bring about a morally improved humanity? In The Myth of the Moral Brain, Harris Wiseman argues that moral functioning is immeasurably complex, mediated by biology but not determined by it. Morality cannot be engineered; there is no such thing as a "moral brain." Wiseman takes a distinctively interdisciplinary approach, drawing on insights from philosophy, biology, theology, and clinical psychology. He considers philosophical rationales for moral enhancement, and the practical realities they come up against; recent empirical work, including studies of the cognitive and behavioral effects of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine; and traditional moral education, in particular the influence of religious thought, belief, and practice. Arguing that morality involves many interacting elements, Wiseman proposes an integrated bio-psycho-social approach to the consideration of moral enhancement. Such an approach would show that, by virtue of their sheer numbers, social and environmental factors are more important in shaping moral functioning than the neurobiological factors with which they are interwoven"--Back cover.


Cambridge, Massachusetts : MIT Press, [2016]

Physical description

340 pages ; 24 cm.

Bibliographic information

Includes bibliographical references (pages 309-329) and index.


The new problem of evil : gloomy preamble -- Philosophy -- The philosophy of moral enhancement : why morally enhance? -- Conceptual issues and practical realities in moral enhancement -- Science -- The biochemical bases for moral enhancement : how the brain does morality -- Not fit for purpose? Methodological and conceptual problems -- Faith -- Moral education and faith -- Moral enhancement in a world of faith -- Praxis -- Enhancement or remediation? -- Treating addiction : moral enhancement in practice -- The limits and potential of moral bioenhancement.


  • English

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    History of Medicine
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  • 9780262033923
  • 0262033925