Louise Presents on Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality

  • October 23, 2013 · 6:00 PM
  • This location is shown only to members

Louise will introduce us to Professor Patricia Churchland, a Canadian-American philosopher noted for her contributions to neurophilosophy and the philosophy of mind.

Churchland has focused on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy. According to her, philosophers are increasingly realizing that to understand the mind one must understand the brain. She is associated with a school of thought called eliminative materialism, which argues that commonsense, immediately intuitive, or "folk psychological" concepts such as thought, free will, and consciousness will likely need to be revised in a physically reductionistic way as neuroscientists discover more about the nature of brain function.

In 2011, Churchland published "Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality." Here is a preview of the book. As fond as we are of Sam Harris and his The Moral Landscape, consider that work an appetizer for Churchland's feast in Braintrust.

What is morality? Where does it come from? And why do most of us heed its call most of the time? In Braintrust, neurophilosophy pioneer Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain. She describes the "neurobiological platform of bonding" that, modified by evolutionary pressures and cultural values, has led to human styles of moral behavior. The result is a provocative genealogy of morals that asks us to reevaluate the priority given to religion, absolute rules, and pure reason in accounting for the basis of morality.

**A late addition from our atheist friends in Santa Cruz as Raquel Ortiz will be visiting and available for questions. She is a recently retired English teacher from Valencia, Spain, a member of Europa Laica, which supports the separation of church and state and a society where freedom of thought is a central tenet.  For more info in Spanish about Europa Laica:  http://www.laicismo.org/europa_laica

This is going to be our first meeting at the new location! Find us upstairs near the other bar. Please email me if you have any questions or concerns about the new location.

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  • Dana N.

    Louise, would you mind posting the title of those books you mentioned in a comment to the video of your talk? Thank you!

    1 · October 25, 2013

  • Steve

    Nice to see you again Louise. You are an asset to this group.

    4 · October 25, 2013

  • Larry G.

    The presentation was excellent. For someone who says she's shy, Louise seems quite comfortable speaking to an audience. Her topic was new and interesting, and, short of teaching a class, she outlined it very well. Nice job, Louise!

    4 · October 24, 2013

  • Fabienne

    Merci Louise, pour la présentation et pour le livre! :) <3

    2 · October 24, 2013

  • Tim

    As a subscriber to determinism I was enthralled by Louise's presentation. It's just more evidence of how the soup of chemicals and receptors in our brains make us who we are determine our behavior toward others. Excellent meetup.

    4 · October 24, 2013

  • Noreen

    Excellent talk! I like learning about advances being made in neuroscience; there are always surprises. Raquel's talk was inspiring, too. We take our freedoms for granted until reminded of what it is like elsewhere.

    2 · October 24, 2013

    • Dana N.

      And we are also suffering in the country in similar ways as Spain, and we can't let it get that out of control. We can't allow religion to saturate our gov more than it already has.

      1 · October 24, 2013

  • Invisible Pink U.

    Excellent to see the group growing so much!

    Some discussions I had tonight for which there are hyperlinks:

    Top 25 Creationist Fallacies by Fluffy Atheist
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FH0vQiudp6I

    ACSJ atheism questionnaire
    http://www.meetup.com/Atheist-Community-of-San-Jose/messages/boards/thread/37492432

    Useful and entertaining atheist websites
    http://www.meetup.com/Atheist-Community-of-San-Jose/messages/boards/thread/33183332

    David Silverman - Frank Turek debate (excellent for problem of free will)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81nYU22pG5g

    The thing that God can't do (be prepared for a hearty laugh)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdxeqEoDXco

    1 · October 23, 2013

  • Brian B.

    Thank you Louise for a great presentation, I will upload it to our YouTube channel soon. Welcome again to the new members! There is clearly a big need for a group like this in our community, we grow every week. We plan on working with the audio system to boost it up a little bit so the people in the back can hear better, it is a new location so we have a few bugs to work out. Don't forget to suggest some meetups!

    1 · October 23, 2013

    • Kennita

      Will Louise's slides be put in this page's Files area?

      October 23, 2013

  • Susan M.

    Very nice venue, even though the acoustics were terrible. We'll find ways to work around that, though. What a thrill to see over 40 people turn out for this!

    1 · October 23, 2013

  • Susan M.

    Outstanding talk, Louise! It's always great to learn about nature's curiosities. Very well researched!

    October 23, 2013

  • Dana N.

    Fantastic meeting! Scot thanks for explaining the situation regarding Ham. Louise, that was a wonderful and fascinating talk. I very much enjoyed it! Lots of new info to chew on.

    1 · October 23, 2013

  • Susan M.

    Does Sonoma Chicken Coop have real live chickens walking around? At least two restaurants I've visited near Sacramento (in Fair Oaks) have outdoor seating where the local feral chickens wander around quite calmly. The chickens at Sonoma Chicken Coop are...um...resting, right?

    October 17, 2013

    • Larry G.

      @Susan M.: LOL!

      1 · October 20, 2013

    • Andrew D.

      I'll take scuzzy for $100!

      October 23, 2013

  • Kennita

    Argh! I missed the window to reserve an Outreach ride. Please write or call if you can drive me from Sunnyvale. I think it's a straight shot down Sunnyvale/Saratoga/Sunnyvale/De Anza to Prospect/Campbell, which might actually be faster than the freeway at that time of day, but it's a long drive for me. Note that with a passenger we'll get to use the carpool lane if we do take the freeway, and that I have a disabled placard o help with parking once we get there. Also, I'll help with food or gas.

    Please write -- kennita at kennita do com -- or text or call --[masked]-9371. Thanks!

    October 22, 2013

    • Kennita

      Help! I haven't been able to reach Fabienne (using the "Send email" button on the page that comes up when you click on someone's name); does anyone have a number for her? Or maybe a different email address? Thanks!

      October 23, 2013

    • Kennita

      Hurray for the Internet (and unusual names)! I found Fabienne at her teaching job.

      October 23, 2013

  • Brian B.

    I am planning on being at the Coop around 5pm if anyone wants to meet early and help set-up. See you all soon!

    October 23, 2013

  • Ben R.

    I will only be able to attend for the first hour, is that going to be okay? I don't want to be disrespectful.

    1 · October 23, 2013

    • Brian B.

      Not a problem Ben - people can come and go as they wish. But if it is during the presentation you might want to sit near the back so it is easier to duck out.

      1 · October 23, 2013

  • Mark T.

    Wish I could be there.

    October 22, 2013

    • Brian B.

      Next time! We have another meeting in two weeks

      October 23, 2013

  • Erin U.

    Sorry. Can't make it this time. I'm still packing for my move.

    October 22, 2013

    • Brian B.

      You will be missed :(

      2 · October 23, 2013

  • Byron K.

    The organization supporting separation of church and state is intriguing. One of my pet projects involves state and local government entanglement with a religious organization.

    October 22, 2013

  • Ronald (Brent) F.

    Just being curious, this sounds quite intersting. Will Professor Churchland actually be a guest speaker, or is this more a presentation of her work?

    October 20, 2013

    • Ronald (Brent) F.

      Thank you for the clarification.

      October 21, 2013

    • Dana N.

      Ronald, in case you haven't been to our meetings, members get to give presentations on whatever interests them most. It's turned out to be a really great aspect of our meetings. After we have open discussions on the talk or other topics.

      October 22, 2013

  • Dana N.

    Getting a bigger place was the right move, as we have 37 people signed up. That is so cool. I really do adore this group. A smart, fun bunch of people.

    3 · October 22, 2013

  • Louise

    Regarding our new site:

    October 8, 2013

    • Larry G.

      What can I say? I'm easy!

      October 9, 2013

    • Erin U.

      Ugh. Fantastic!

      October 19, 2013

  • Brian B.

    Right on! We hit the 30 mark in attendees! The Coop will be a good place to grow as it has plenty of room, but that doesn't mean we can't outgrow that too!

    3 · October 19, 2013

  • Kennita

    I live near Central and Fair Oaks. Is someone willing to pick me up? I really shouldn't drive that far. Thanks! Please email kennita at kennita dot com

    1 · October 18, 2013

  • Dana N.

    Looking forward to this presentation and seeing our new digs!

    1 · October 17, 2013

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