Liane Young, a postdoctoral associate in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences has added a new piece to the scientific puzzle of how the human brain constructs morality, as it relates to harmful intent.
Watching scenes of harmful behavior — attempted murder, for example — Young’s colleagues studied the reactions of subjects with full reasoning powers and other cognitive functions, but with physical brain damage that left them unable to process social emotions such as empathy or embarrassment.
As long as the person didn’t die in the attempted murder, the subjects reasoned that no harm was done and no punishment required.
“We’re slowly chipping away at the structure of morality,” says Young. “We’re not the first to show that emotions matter for morality, but this is a more precise look at how emotions matter.” via Science Daily