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Neurofunctional Prudence and Morality: A Philosophical Theory

New York, USA: Routledge (2020)

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  1. The Normative Stance.Marcus Arvan - 2021 - Philosophical Forum 52 (1):79-89.
    The Duhem-Quine thesis famously holds that a single hypothesis cannot be confirmed or disconfirmed in isolation, but instead only in conjunction with other background hypotheses. This article argues that this has important and underappreciated implications for metaethics. Section 1 argues that if one begins metaethics firmly wedded to a naturalistic worldview—due (e.g.) to methodological/epistemic considerations—then normativity will appear to be reducible to a set of social-psycho-semantic behaviors that I call the ‘normative stance.’ Contra Hume and Bedke (2012), I argue that (...)
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  • Moral Rationalism on the Brain.Joshua May - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    I draw on neurobiological evidence to defend the rationalist thesis that moral judgments are essentially dependent on reasoning, not emotions (conceived as distinct from inference). The neuroscience reveals that moral cognition arises from domain-general capacities in the brain for inferring, in particular, the consequences of an agent’s action, the agent’s intent, and the rules or norms relevant to the context. Although these capacities entangle inference and affect, blurring the reason/emotion dichotomy doesn’t preferentially support sentimentalism. The argument requires careful consideration of (...)
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  • Morality as an Evolutionary Exaptation.Marcus Arvan - 2021 - In Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz (eds.), Empirically Engaged Evolutionary Ethics. Springer - Synthese Library. pp. 89-109.
    The dominant theory of the evolution of moral cognition across a variety of fields is that moral cognition is a biological adaptation to foster social cooperation. This chapter argues, to the contrary, that moral cognition is likely an evolutionary exaptation: a form of cognition where neurobiological capacities selected for in our evolutionary history for a variety of different reasons—many unrelated to social cooperation—were put to a new, prosocial use after the fact through individual rationality, learning, and the development and transmission (...)
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