Does social neuroscience facilitate an autistic understanding of prosocial behaviour?


Today research on prosocial behaviour is very much shaped by the success of social neuroscience. However, some philosopher's criticise neuroscience as reductionist. The purpose of this paper is to analyse this critique. With a philosophical background in Charles Taylor's hermeneutic thesis "man as a self-interpreting animal", the paper shows that neuroscientists' attempt to describe prosocial behaviour in science through brain imaging technologies (MRI) constitute a neurochemical self that resonates a modern ‘paradigm of clarity and objectivity’ as presented by Taylor. It is argued that this scientific explanation model challenges Taylor's hermeneutic self. Where human behaviour previous was mapped on a psychological level, prosocial behaviour is described in the body - the human brain - on a neurophysiological level. The author applies an autism analogy metaphor, which paradoxical shows that the neurochemical self’s emphasis on structures and observations epistemological facilitate an autistic understanding of prosocial behaviour alien to the situated and interpreted feelings of Taylor's self-understanding(s), and the logic of our everyday language.

Author's Profile

Henrik Hvid
University of Aarhus


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