Jorge Moll: The Science and Depth of Morality

Philosophers and Theologians have been pondering and discussing the world, the universe, society and our place in it for centuries. They often do this by asking many abstract yet impactful questions. Jorge Moll a neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health is using science to answer some of the same questions. His studies are attempting to find the roots of morality and it’s role in people by studying the brain.

Jorge Moll took a group of volunteers and scanned their brains as they were presented with a scenario of either to donate an amount of money to charity or pocket the sum instead. Jorge Moll conferred with his colleague Jordan Grafman that the results showed that when volunteers chose to be generous a primitive part of the brain usually activated by food or sex lights up. This suggested that altruism was programmed into the brain to be pleasurable. This finding makes science an interesting new voice in the discussion of morality and defining what is good (,222c41e0b2edf079d2bdd47da28602f1mw2nokus.html). It also lends itself well to theologic teachings like that of the bible that ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’.

Many studies like that of Jorge Moll using brain scans with psychological experiments are beginning to show aspects of morality are built in and came about through an evolutionary process originating in other species. As more is learned research increasingly shows that morality is founded in a creatures ability to empathize with another. This can be linked to the human concept of right and wrong.

While these findings can help support optimistic philosophical and theological ideas some are concerned that morality becomes diminished to an evolutionary survival mechanism. Studies like those done by Jorge Moll definitely link emotions as central to moral thinking and forming of intuition. This poses many dilemmas on how to judge morality. Questions that were once left in a spiritual mystery are now presenting a challenge to the foundation of how we live our lives.