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BRAINTRUST: WHAT NEUROSCIENCE TELLS US ABOUT MORALITY
Patricia Churchland, Neuroscience and Philosophy, University of California, San Diego; Salk Institute for Biological Studies
Coach House, Green College, UBC
January 24 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Where do moral values come from? A new understanding arises from the evolution of the mammalian brain. Although all animals have nervous system circuitry supporting care of self, in mammals this circuitry was extended and modified to include caring for others. In the first instance the others were offspring, and the neurohormone, oxytocin, was at the hub of attachment to and caring for others. When conditions favored group life, evolutionary modifications to the circuitry supported the extension of care beyond offspring to mates, to kin, and to friends. Humans, like other highly social mammals, are strongly motivated to be with group members and to share in their practices. Human moral behavior, while more complex than the social behaviour of other animals, depends on a similar neural platform, but is also shaped by the human capacity to solve problems, plan for the future and develop social institutions.

Patricia Churchland will be presenting several talks on the UBC campus during her stay as a Cecil H. and Ida Green Visiting Professor. Please consult the Calendar of Events for details.

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