, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 159–172 | Cite as

The Science of Morality and its Normative Implications

  • Tommaso Bruni
  • Matteo MameliEmail author
  • Regina A. Rini
Original Paper


Neuromoral theorists are those who claim that a scientific understanding of moral judgment through the methods of psychology, neuroscience and related disciplines can have normative implications and can be used to improve the human ability to make moral judgments. We consider three neuromoral theories: one suggested by Gazzaniga, one put forward by Gigerenzer, and one developed by Greene. By contrasting these theories we reveal some of the fundamental issues that neuromoral theories in general have to address. One important issue concerns whether the normative claims that neuromoral theorists would like to make are to be understood in moral terms or in non-moral terms. We argue that, on either a moral or a non-moral interpretation of these claims, neuromoral theories face serious problems. Therefore, neither the moral nor the non-moral reading of the normative claims makes them philosophically viable.


Morality Normativity Ethics Neuroscience Psychology 



The authors would like to thank Joshua Greene for sharing unpublished materials and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. Research was supported by the European Institute of Oncology (TB), the Umberto Veronesi Foundation (TB), and the VolkswagenStiftung (RR).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Institute of OncologyMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyKing’s College LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.The Uehiro Center for Practical EthicsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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