Marvelous new online, free, open-access journal that everyone should read: Neuroethics.

The first issue includes an unflinching look at the field of neuroethics (as distinct from Bioethics,) and the way that the brain determines ethics and morality.
 
http://www.springerlink.com/content/120989/?p=ff72daa10e7b435fa42eb31b7bcd5e20&pi=0  

In the first issue, editor Dr. Neil Levy has written an elegent overview of the field, including a neuroethicist’s view of the notorious Trolley Problem, namely, if a trolley is hurtling toward five people on a track, and you hold a lever that will change the track so that the trolley is shuttled onto a track where it kills only one person, should you pull the lever.

Most ethicists and ordinary folks say “yes,” for the greater welfare is at stake.  

However, if the problem is changed subtly so that your choice is between allowing the trolley to crush the five people or pushing a large, beefy man onto the track to obstruct and stop the trolley, most ethicists and ordinary people will say no, that this violates the man’s rights, and you should allow the trolley to slaughter the five people.  

Neuroethicists have identified where the real problem is: the difference between these two scenarios is not merely “action,” as the Kantian folks dissemble, but emotion. We do not want to be actively responsible for the death of a human being, and a particular human being (the large, beefy man) at that.  

The real problem is: since it is emotion that informs our ethical choices, ethical choices are not rational.  

The journal also has a lovely article on “The Popular New Genre of Neurosexism” by Dr. Cordelia Fine, comparing recent mommy-brain books to the painfully terrible science of the 1800’s, in which eminent scientists actually promulgated that women’s education should not be too rigorous because it would divert energy to their brains and away from their ovaries, rendering them sterile. (Testicles, apparently, had an independent energy source.)  

This excellent new journal deserves bookmarking. Do it now to avoid the rush.  

TK Kenyon
Author of RABID: A Novel and CALLOUS: A Novel, where neuroscience, morality, and murder intersect.

www.tkkenyon.com
http://science4non-majors.blogspot.com/
http://tkkenyon.blogspot.com/ 
 

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