Cory, who always keeps me up to speed with mind/body research links, passes along this report--Study Narrows Gap Between Mind And Brain--by Jon Hamilton.
In the article Hamilton reports on a recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In that study researchers found that applying a magnetic pulse to the brain affects how participants made moral judgments. The conclusion of the report:
The fact that scientists can adjust morality with a magnet may be disconcerting to people who view morality as a lofty and immutable human trait, says Joshua Greene, psychologist at Harvard University. But that view isn't accurate, he says.I've wrestled a lot with these implications on this blog. Many of those posts can be found here.
"Moral judgment is just a brain process," he says. "That's precisely why it's possible for these researchers to influence it using electromagnetic pulses on the surface of the brain."
The new study is really part of a much larger effort by scientists to explain how the brain creates moral judgments, Greene says. The scientists are trying to take concepts such as morality, which philosophers once attributed to the human soul, and "break it down in mechanical terms."
If something as complex as morality has a mechanical explanation, Green says, it will be hard to argue that people have, or need, a soul.