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Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements

Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements Is moral reasoning a predominantly rational process, or does emotion play its part? Tests performed by six patients with lesions in an area of the brain involved in the normal generation of emotions (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) point to a specific and causal role for the emotions in moral judgements. These patients produced an abnormally 'utilitarian' pattern of judgements on certain types of moral dilemmas, those that we might classify as “gut wrenching”, such as having to decide whether to sacrifice one's child in order to save a number of other people. Their judgements were normal on other classes of moral dilemmas. As well as illuminating the normal role of emotions in moral judgement, this work has a bearing on the mechanisms behind the pathological moral behaviour found in people like psychopaths. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Springer Journals

Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements

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References (44)

Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2006 by Nature Publishing Group
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
ISSN
0028-0836
eISSN
1476-4687
DOI
10.1038/nature05631
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Is moral reasoning a predominantly rational process, or does emotion play its part? Tests performed by six patients with lesions in an area of the brain involved in the normal generation of emotions (the ventromedial prefrontal cortex) point to a specific and causal role for the emotions in moral judgements. These patients produced an abnormally 'utilitarian' pattern of judgements on certain types of moral dilemmas, those that we might classify as “gut wrenching”, such as having to decide whether to sacrifice one's child in order to save a number of other people. Their judgements were normal on other classes of moral dilemmas. As well as illuminating the normal role of emotions in moral judgement, this work has a bearing on the mechanisms behind the pathological moral behaviour found in people like psychopaths.

Journal

NatureSpringer Journals

Published: Mar 21, 2007

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