My work so far develops an optimistic view of commonsense moral deliberation in light of psychological science. Despite the heavy influence of automatic and unconscious processes that have been shaped by evolutionary pressures, I argue that reasoning plays a fundamental role in ethical thought and action. We thus needn’t reject ordinary moral character as fundamentally flawed or in need of serious repair.
In future work, I aim to engage more fully with findings in neuroscience and how they shed light on moral development and progress. Our understanding of the brain is limited but rapidly improving, yet issues in neuroethics are in special need of rigorous philosophical analysis. Ethics is controversial enough; combined with the highly technical language of neuroscience, superficial and alarmist reactions will likely abound.
Questions I’ll address include: How does moral learning and development work at the neurobiological level? As a result, should we be skeptical about virtuous character? Can we use brain stimulation, neurosurgery, and psychedelics to become more virtuous? To address such questions, I need broad knowledge of neuroscience and related work in psychology. Assisting with cross-training will be my mentor, Dr. Rajesh Kana (Professor of Psychology), an expert in social cognition and neuroimaging.
In addition to articles, cross-training could eventually yield a book-length treatment of issues in neuroethics. It could serve both as a scholarly contribution and as an introduction to the issues that could be read by a wide audience, even used in college courses. Such a book would soberly scrutinize the science, avoid alarmist reactions, and argue that neuroethics is an important field in which scientists and ethicists provide checks and balances against each other. Ultimately, cross-training will provide the tools necessary for a career of interdisciplinary philosophical scholarship of the highest quality, made accessible through public engagement.