Neuroscience and Virtue:
The Rationality of Ultimate Value: Emotion, Awareness, and Causality in Virtue Ethics and Decision Neuroscience
Dr. Warren S. Brown, Professor, Fuller Theological Seminary
Dr. Gregory Peterson, Associate Professor, South Dakota State University
Dr. Kevin Reimer, Professor, Azusa Pacific University
Dr. Michael L. Spezio, Assistant Professor, Scripps College & Visiting Scientist, California Institute of Technology
James A. Van Slyke, M.A., M.S., Adjunct Professor, Azusa Pacific University
The goal of this project is a deeper understanding of the nature of virtue in relation to the transcendent. How is virtue related to rationality, emotions, and concepts of ultimate value? A unique aspect of this project is the attempt to understand persons who are exemplars of virtue – either historical exemplars, such as holocaust rescuers, or persons whose behavior in economic games is exemplary of fairness and generosity. The project studies exemplars with respect to the implicit conceptual “schemas” by which they understand themselves and the world (including their orientation to something transcendent, or concepts of ultimate value), their psychological makeup, and their patterns of brain activity while making virtue-relevant decisions.
A core question of this project is the degree to which a virtuous person’s mental “schemas” (of themselves and of the world) involve a representation of transcendent realities and ultimate values, and the degree to which these are important in their virtuous behavior and character. The research program will foster discussions among philosophers, theologians, psychologists, economists, and cognitive neuroscientists regarding the nature of transcendence and a theory of virtue that focuses on the personal traits and character of virtuous exemplars.
Click here for a longer program description.
This research is supported by a $100,000 grant from The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (Berkeley) through a competition entitled: STARS: Science and Transcendence Advanced Research Series (http://www.ctnsstars.org).