, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 143-150

Mind the gap(s): sociality, morality, and oxytocin

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Patricia Churchland pursues two aims in Braintrust. The first is descriptive: to give an account of the neural underpinnings of moral behaviour. The second is practical: to draw on that account for insight into current moral problems. While pursuing these aims, Churchland provides an accessible and engaging introduction not only to current neuroscience but to traditional and still vital debates in moral philosophy as well. Braintrust is admirably interdisciplinary and integrative in approach, and Churchland is optimistic and enthusiastic about the prospects for moving from experimental work toward an understanding of real-world human moral systems and issues. At the same time, she is sensibly restrained. She avoids—indeed, argues effectively against—‘gene-for-x’ foolishness, and clearly appreciates the need for care when bringing empirical studies to bear on philosophical questions. Her descriptions of neatly designed experiments and marvellously complex neurophysiology are delightfull