Monday, March 10, 2008

Moral Neuropolitics

Gary Olson, who is Chair of the Dept. of Political Science of Maravian College in Bethlehm, PA., sent me a latest draft of his article "From Mirror Neuron to Moral Neuropolitics." It does a nice job with the literature on mirror neurons and its implications, as well as political and cultural factors that enhance and inhibit moral behaviors. Gary is willing to pass on the draft article to blog readers for further comment (web version here; PDF download here).

My main comment was that the article might - in addition to covering cultural and political factors that work against moral behaviors between groups of distant people - add more data from evolutionary and developmental biology studies that also offer some evidence for factors working against morality and compassion. There is evidence for xenophobia and aggression between groups of animals (intra-group morality and cooperation, but also inter-group aggression and warfare), well documented in Chimps (cf. Feb. 19 Killer Instincts post), and other social animals (cf. March 8 post on Hyenas). Also, experiments show that that groups of children spontaneously invent not only language, but also in-groups and out-groups (cf. July 31 post) that can become competitive.

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