On the Irrelevance of Neuroscience to Moral Theory: A Critical Note on Greene

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This is a critical comment on an Article by Joshua Greene in which he uses brain studies and contemporary psychological findings in order to settle the dispute between consequentialist and deontological theories. I first summarize Greene's main claims and later raise several objections to them. In contrast to Greene, I argue that consequentialist theories are bound to use first order intuitions and their soundness depends on the degree to which they yield practical guidelines that are intuitively plausible. Further, I differ with Greene and contend that deontological theories are not merely rationalizations of first order intuitions; in fact, their findings often conflict with such intuitions. Last, I argue that the mere fact that deontological judgments are emotional or, more accurately, are processed in those parts of the brain that are responsible for emotions, does not affect their soundness.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)173-179
Number of pages7
JournalLaw and Ethics of Human Rights
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015


  • Joshua Greene
  • brain studies
  • consequentialist theories
  • contemporary psychological findings
  • critical note
  • deontological theories

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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