Conscience by Patricia S. Churchland


In her brilliant work Touching a Nerve, Patricia S. Churchland, the distinguished founder of neurophilosophy, drew from scientific research on the brain to understand its philosophical and ethical implications for identity, consciousness, free will, and memory. In Conscience, she explores how moral systems arise from our physical selves in combination with environmental demands.All social groups have ideals for behavior, even though ethics vary a...

Details Conscience

Release DateJun 4th, 2019
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenrePhilosophy, Science, Psychology, Nonfiction

Reviews Conscience

  • Ryan Boissonneault
    When thinking about morality, people generally make two mistakes: 1) that moral certainty can be achieved by consulting some external, objective source, and 2) that if this is not the case, and moral certainty cannot be attained, then we all have license to do whatever we want and there’s nothing left to discuss. As analytical philosopher Patricia Churchland explains in her latest book, Conscience: The Origin of Our Moral Intuitions, both ideas...
  • Bob
    Summary: Exploring the neuroscience of our sense of right and wrong, integrating our knowledge of neurophysical causation, social factors, and philosophy, arguing that moral norms are based in our brain functions, interacting with our social world.Conscience. Unless one is significantly cognitively impaired, there is this inner sense we have about what is morally right or wrong, or sometimes this place where we determine right or wrong. Where doe...
  • Dan Graser
    UC Professor of Philosophy Patricia Churchland is at all times a masterful writer with important issues to discuss and the necessary linguistic and intellectual tools with which to discuss them. This latest work centers on the formation of what we know of as our conscience and how varying degrees of biology and environment come to play. The notion(s) that this is some sort of supernatural sense with which we are gifted, a purely biological proces...
  • Anastasia
    A pretty enjoyable read but it was different from what I expected - I've been swayed by a lot of argumentation from both Paul and Patricia Churchland (definitely favourite power couple material), and so I was excited to see that Patricia had a new book released a few weeks ago. I love the Churchlands' philosophical argumentation, but this book was a little more in the pop science realm. It's a pretty easy read compared to their more technical wor...
  • Prooost Davis
    The title would perhaps more precisely be "The Biological Origins of Moral Intuition," but maybe the actual title has more mystery to attract the buyer.Patricia Churchland is a philosopher who got interested in, and studied, neurobiology. She was dissatisfied with the reigning philosophical theories on morality: mainly that there are absolute moral rules, applicable in all times, in all places, and in all cases, which can be discovered by reason....
  • Chunyang Ding
    Not a bad book, but also not a good one. The first half of the book seems misleading, as the premise is a neurological understanding of moral philosophy, yet the neurology present is fundamental evolutionary neurochemistry. It feels more like a neuroscience textbook, highlighting key experiments and whatnot. While this makes for good reading, it leaves me wanting more understanding into actual moral questions, rather than only dance around the is...
  • John Kaufmann
    Like her earlier book Touching a Nerve: Our Brains, Our Selves, I found this a very interesting read and learned a lot. But also like that previous book, I find her writing and arguments very subtle, such that I occasionally lost the thread. Part of it is me, I am sure -- this is difficult material, and I struggle with cognitive science. Also, part of it is that this is a developing field, and Churchland proceeds cautiously rather than making bol...
  • Nancy Garon
    Amazing book! I love how she integrated a variety of research areas.
  • David
    Probably the best book I've read on morality so far. The book is well-written and easy to understand. If only all philosophers wrote this way. She actually helped me to see the flaws with moral skepticism as it's generally only focused on an academic or religious narrow version of morality. She is a moral skeptic in THAT sense. However, she points out a different way of viewing morality that doesn't require seeing it as some list of absolute, obj...
  • Per Kraulis
    Philosopher-neuroscientist Patricia Churchland explores the basis for conscience and morality. She discusses both the evolutionary and mechanistic processes underlying our humanity. A nice read, with several important and sometimes provocative points delivered in a well-written text. Churchland begins with defining conscience as "knowledge of the community standards", and goes on to describe how such standards have been internalized in the human ...