Damage to the prefrontal cortex increases utilitarian moral judgements View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:ScholarlyArticle      Open Access: True


Article Info

DATE

2007-04

AUTHORS

Michael Koenigs, Liane Young, Ralph Adolphs, Daniel Tranel, Fiery Cushman, Marc Hauser, Antonio Damasio

ABSTRACT

The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgement have been the focus of many recent empirical studies. Of central interest is whether emotions play a causal role in moral judgement, and, in parallel, how emotion-related areas of the brain contribute to moral judgement. Here we show that six patients with focal bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a brain region necessary for the normal generation of emotions and, in particular, social emotions, produce an abnormally 'utilitarian' pattern of judgements on moral dilemmas that pit compelling considerations of aggregate welfare against highly emotionally aversive behaviours (for example, having to sacrifice one person's life to save a number of other lives). In contrast, the VMPC patients' judgements were normal in other classes of moral dilemmas. These findings indicate that, for a selective set of moral dilemmas, the VMPC is critical for normal judgements of right and wrong. The findings support a necessary role for emotion in the generation of those judgements. More... »

PAGES

908

References to SciGraph publications

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/nature05631

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature05631

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1051857939

PUBMED

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17377536


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44 schema:description The psychological and neurobiological processes underlying moral judgement have been the focus of many recent empirical studies. Of central interest is whether emotions play a causal role in moral judgement, and, in parallel, how emotion-related areas of the brain contribute to moral judgement. Here we show that six patients with focal bilateral damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), a brain region necessary for the normal generation of emotions and, in particular, social emotions, produce an abnormally 'utilitarian' pattern of judgements on moral dilemmas that pit compelling considerations of aggregate welfare against highly emotionally aversive behaviours (for example, having to sacrifice one person's life to save a number of other lives). In contrast, the VMPC patients' judgements were normal in other classes of moral dilemmas. These findings indicate that, for a selective set of moral dilemmas, the VMPC is critical for normal judgements of right and wrong. The findings support a necessary role for emotion in the generation of those judgements.
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