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Subject: Blood Chemistry and morality rss

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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/27/opinion/zak-moral-molecule/ind...

The gist of the article being that levels of a certain molecule predict behaviors related to trust. Now obviously, this doesn't make any claims about severe crimes, but it is interesting in its ramifications for modifying people's behavior to make them more socially acceptable and less harmful to others. This is one of those discoveries that really makes me wonder how much of our tendencies and behaviors are governed by brain chemistry and not "good and evil".
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Bojan Ramadanovic
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*All* of our behaviour is governed by brain chemistry (and brain physics if you would).
It is just very useful to consider some combined effects of brain chemistry "good" and others "evil" - primarily because we have no way to probe brain chemistry of fellow humans but do have constant insight (and are affected by) their actions.
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Boaty McBoatface
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Surley this is about trust, not morailty. After all were they told not not returning the money was wrong? If not it was not a moral choice, it may have been a nice choice to return money to someone who had given you money to 'invest'. But without the idea it was wrong not to, you are not determnning morailty but (its the best word I can think of) empathy. Given that we a social animals (decended from a pride animal) It's hardley surprising that we have a chemical that gears us towards sociable activites.
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Tom McPhee
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The details of the experiment given in the article made my brain hurt. It wasn't clear to me exactly what the aims of the study etc were about exactly and just how significant or otherwise the results were. I am vaguely aware of research looking at oxytocin and its effects on the emotional state of humans. Given it is released when mothers nurse babies it's not very surprising that it is involved in trust and the sense of loving of others.

But that's not really what this is about, it is about the idea that if we identify a chemical (or neurochemical/ neurological/ neurophysiological or...) state in the brain associated with a condition does that then mean that we are no longer "responsible" for our actions. As has already been pointed out it seems likely that all behaviours and feeling states are associated with neurochemical changes- but does our shorthand way of thinking about things mean anything else, or are roses sweet regardless of what we call them?

E.g.compare, "I feel hungry" to "neurons in my ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus have started to increase their rate of fire, including projections to my orbitofrontal cortex"...they say the same thing, sort of.
Or, "I am an evil piece of work", to "I act without consideration of others internal emotional state because the neuronal cytoarchitecture of my prefrontal cortex is different from most age and sex matched controls, as shown by decreased perfusion on blood flow imaging and an EEG recording that more resembles that of a teenager than an adult". Either way, I probably don't want to live next door to such a person!
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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I do think it's important to keep in mind, at this point in human brain chemistry knowledge, that there is a difference between "knowing" the difference between right and wrong (I know those are subjective terms based on societal norms, but there are some basics they do cover like trust, use of force, etc..) and "feeling" the difference between right and wrong. Especially in the context of the justice system in relation to punishment versus rehabilitation. How effective is "punishment" against someone whose "feelings" (aka brain chemistry) are working against them. Rehabilitation should be tailored for individuals based on what exactly is happening, not some archaic bipolar idea of good vs. evil, the kind of simplistic thinking that makes Texas Governors mass murderers.

Can original sin actually be a metaphor for brain chemistry? Do we all have the chemistry built in to do wrong, and only by the rational higher functions of our brain we keep those chemical reactions from guiding our actions? It follows that some peoples chemistry is stronger in some ways than the norm, while others have weaker chemistry than the norm These kind of questions fascinate me. How much of our free will is actually predicated by brain chemistry? By saying that I don't mean we give up and give in to our chemistry and instincts, but by understanding the elements we have to fight against, we can better allow for them when choosing right and wrong.
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Boaty McBoatface
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TheChin! wrote:
I do think it's important to keep in mind, at this point in human brain chemistry knowledge, that there is a difference between "knowing" the difference between right and wrong (I know those are subjective terms based on societal norms, but there are some basics they do cover like trust, use of force, etc..) and "feeling" the difference between right and wrong. Especially in the context of the justice system in relation to punishment versus rehabilitation. How effective is "punishment" against someone whose "feelings" (aka brain chemistry) are working against them. Rehabilitation should be tailored for individuals based on what exactly is happening, not some archaic bipolar idea of good vs. evil, the kind of simplistic thinking that makes Texas Governors mass murderers.

Can original sin actually be a metaphor for brain chemistry? Do we all have the chemistry built in to do wrong, and only by the rational higher functions of our brain we keep those chemical reactions from guiding our actions? It follows that some peoples chemistry is stronger in some ways than the norm, while others have weaker chemistry than the norm These kind of questions fascinate me. How much of our free will is actually predicated by brain chemistry? By saying that I don't mean we give up and give in to our chemistry and instincts, but by understanding the elements we have to fight against, we can better allow for them when choosing right and wrong.


No, chemistry can make us act selfishly, but right and wrong are philosophical constructs that change from generation to generation.
 
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slatersteven wrote:

No, chemistry can make us act selfishly, but right and wrong are philosophical constructs that change from generation to generation.


Well, right and wrong may be a higher-function abstract overlay, but I think the impetus to acknowledge right and wrong based on situation and risk-reward is heavily influenced by chemistry. To the point of "feeling right" or "feeling wrong". It's a complex interplay that can't be dismissed by assuming everyone knows the definitions of right and wrong and when acting against the definitions, they are equally responsible as someone with different brain chemistry. I agree, you cannot dismiss all responsibility, but we have to measure our response, as a society, to antisocial choices by an individual based on their total makeup, not just whether they made a choice in a vacuum.
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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TheChin! wrote:
slatersteven wrote:

No, chemistry can make us act selfishly, but right and wrong are philosophical constructs that change from generation to generation.


Well, right and wrong may be a higher-function abstract overlay, but I think the impetus to acknowledge right and wrong based on situation and risk-reward is heavily influenced by chemistry. To the point of "feeling right" or "feeling wrong". It's a complex interplay that can't be dismissed by assuming everyone knows the definitions of right and wrong and when acting against the definitions, they are equally responsible as someone with different brain chemistry. I agree, you cannot dismiss all responsibility, but we have to measure our response, as a society, to antisocial choices by an individual based on their total makeup, not just whether they made a choice in a vacuum.


True, but anti-social and immoral are not the same. If the tester had said that this proves that we are chemical wired to engage in social behaviour he would have a point.
 
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William Boykin
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slatersteven wrote:
TheChin! wrote:
I do think it's important to keep in mind, at this point in human brain chemistry knowledge, that there is a difference between "knowing" the difference between right and wrong (I know those are subjective terms based on societal norms, but there are some basics they do cover like trust, use of force, etc..) and "feeling" the difference between right and wrong. Especially in the context of the justice system in relation to punishment versus rehabilitation. How effective is "punishment" against someone whose "feelings" (aka brain chemistry) are working against them. Rehabilitation should be tailored for individuals based on what exactly is happening, not some archaic bipolar idea of good vs. evil, the kind of simplistic thinking that makes Texas Governors mass murderers.

Can original sin actually be a metaphor for brain chemistry? Do we all have the chemistry built in to do wrong, and only by the rational higher functions of our brain we keep those chemical reactions from guiding our actions? It follows that some peoples chemistry is stronger in some ways than the norm, while others have weaker chemistry than the norm These kind of questions fascinate me. How much of our free will is actually predicated by brain chemistry? By saying that I don't mean we give up and give in to our chemistry and instincts, but by understanding the elements we have to fight against, we can better allow for them when choosing right and wrong.


No, chemistry can make us act selfishly, but right and wrong are philosophical constructs that change from generation to generation.


I think you mean cultural constructs, here.

Darilian
 
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Boaty McBoatface
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MyTwoCents wrote:
slatersteven wrote:
TheChin! wrote:
I do think it's important to keep in mind, at this point in human brain chemistry knowledge, that there is a difference between "knowing" the difference between right and wrong (I know those are subjective terms based on societal norms, but there are some basics they do cover like trust, use of force, etc..) and "feeling" the difference between right and wrong. Especially in the context of the justice system in relation to punishment versus rehabilitation. How effective is "punishment" against someone whose "feelings" (aka brain chemistry) are working against them. Rehabilitation should be tailored for individuals based on what exactly is happening, not some archaic bipolar idea of good vs. evil, the kind of simplistic thinking that makes Texas Governors mass murderers.

Can original sin actually be a metaphor for brain chemistry? Do we all have the chemistry built in to do wrong, and only by the rational higher functions of our brain we keep those chemical reactions from guiding our actions? It follows that some peoples chemistry is stronger in some ways than the norm, while others have weaker chemistry than the norm These kind of questions fascinate me. How much of our free will is actually predicated by brain chemistry? By saying that I don't mean we give up and give in to our chemistry and instincts, but by understanding the elements we have to fight against, we can better allow for them when choosing right and wrong.


No, chemistry can make us act selfishly, but right and wrong are philosophical constructs that change from generation to generation.


Pretty much the only motivation for breaking cultural norms of right and wrong is selfishness though.


Not necessarily, I can conceal an act to protect someone that society considers unacceptable.
 
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