Toward a Common Morality

Nour Foundation Oxford University Georgetown University Nour Foundation Blackfriars Hall Oxford University Georgetown University

The United Nations
Friday, September 11, 2009

Conference Room 3
9:30 AM - 5:30 PM

Featured Speakers

Discoveries in neuroscience and in particular neurotechnology have provided a unique window through which we can glance into the intricate workings of the human brain. Technologies such as brain scanning using positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging have enabled us to now monitor and understand the detailed geographical representation of human emotions, feelings, and thoughts within the brain. Yet, as these technologies have evolved, they have also highlighted the fundamental limitations that currently exist in our understanding of the human mind; namely, what is the nature of the relationship between the brain and the mind? What is it that makes us human and provides us with the qualities that distinguish us from all other beings? And how do the myriad of electrical and chemical processes we know of within the brain lead to an individual with unique feelings, thoughts, and emotions?

In this third and final conference, the participants will discuss the phenomenological and spiritual characteristics of human subjective experience, the neurophysiological and psychological basis of these domains, as well as the roles they play in the process of practical reasoning and moral decision making. The emphasis will be upon elucidating how and why an understanding of the integrative neuroscience of the brain-mind not only compels but sustains an appreciation for reverence and virtue—in the sense of cognitive intention and expressed actions—while providing a natural foundation for the emergence of a system of common morality. In addressing the empirical record for the moral and spiritual dimension of human experience, participants will discuss the viability of neurocentric justification for reverence and virtue, neuro-phenomenological explanations for intellectual and moral virtues, and the concept of morality and ethics as a core human ecology.


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