IRCM ethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions

Eric Racine
Eric Racine

In a target article published in the current issue of the American Journal of Bioethics (AJOB) Neuroscience, IRCM neuroethics experts open the black box of moral intuitions by suggesting a new approach to explain the way we make moral judgements. The proposed “ADC framework” could offer insight into the types of simple and fast intuitive processes involved in the potentially infinite number and variety of moral assessments.

“Our ADC approach identifies the kinds of intuitions people use regularly to make moral judgments,” says Veljko Dubljevic, PhD, first and corresponding author of the article and postdoctoral fellow in the IRCM’s Neuroethics research unit. “When making moral decisions, we use three accessible criteria to determine what should be considered right and wrong: we assess the agent (A) by focusing on the character’s virtues and vices; the deed itself (D) by determining what are right and wrong actions; and the consequences (C) by evaluating good or bad outcomes.”

“Until now, no theoretical explanation existed to fully make sense of the numerous studies conducted on moral judgement and decision making,” mentions Eric Racine, PhD, Director of the Neuroethics research unit at the IRCM, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine (Division of Experimental Medicine) and the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University, and an affiliate member of the Biomedical Ethics Unit at McGill University.. “We reviewed 15-years’ worth of experiments on different regions of the brain activated during moral judgement, drawing on neuroimaging studies and cognitive neuroscience research, to identify how normative ethics (the study of the morality of our actions) can constructively inform empirical research.”

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November 25, 2014