Saturday, April 3, 2010

"Moral judgments can be altered ... by magnets"

By: Maria Odete Madeira

“Moral judgments can be altered ... by magnets (...) By disrupting brain activity in a particular region, neuroscientists can sway people’s views of moral situations.”

In the above quoted article, it is imperatively stated that “Moral judgments can be altered ... by magnets” and that “By disrupting brain activity in a particular region, neuroscientists can sway people’s views of moral situations.”.

Any living systems can be affected by electromagnetic fields. In what regards human organisms, of course that these are affected by electromagnetic fields in their cognition, of which the ethical judgment and the moral judgment are examples, this is not any Eureka moment.

Electromagnetic fields, a dog bite, an earthquake, hunger, the need to go to the toilet, common cold, a headache all of that affects an organism’s cognitive production, towards fundamental judgments. Anything that affects a body, affects the body’s cognitive functions. What's the surprise? Where’s the Eureka moment?

In an interconnected network a “disruption” of a local region of the network can have effects upon the whole system, but that does not legitimize a reduction of the system to that specific region, which is what is done in the research work that is reviewed in the article and reinforced by the review itself. This reduction is a scientific error.

What seems evident is that the people that have produced these experiments practice applied science, compromised by schemes of control, without considering the concepts and nature of the systems with which they are working.

Matters like the nature of human cognition, in proto-conscious and conscious aspects (reflection, reflexivity, reflexibility), towards judicative valorative judgments of survival, in situations of border with homeostatic processing, linked to mechanisms of risk evaluation for situational systemic self-references of rhythmic enactive intentionality, in abstract and concrete planes, articulated with the respective languages, none of this was considered in the research, nor in the article that reviewed it.

Other fundamental matters, linked to the nature of human cognition, such as the perceptive and affective porosity and the arbitriu, implicated in the systems of exchanges of matter, energy and information between an organism and the situational living web in which it is immersed, towards systemic effects of locality and nonlocality that are synthesized in any cognitive judgment, must be considered in any study that addresses human cognitive judgment, of which a moral judgment is an example. No human judgment can be reduced to black boxed input-output systems.

Conclusive statements like: “Moral judgments can be altered ... by magnets”, “By disrupting brain activity in a particular region, neuroscientists can sway people’s views of moral situations(...)” and “(...) You think of morality as being a really high-level behavior (...) To be able to apply (a magnetic field) to a specific brain region and change people’s moral judgments is really astonishing (...)”, all of these statements are scientific nonsense, “intellectual impostures” of an applied science that intermixes a bad Cartesianism with a bad Behaviorism, contaminated by an illusion of control.

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