Jorge Moll’s Moral Compass Experiment

Jorge Moll and Jordan Grafmaan both neuroscientist for the National Institute of Health started an experiment testing people’s brains to see if perhaps people might be hard wired to choose the right path morally ( It can be a challenging argument but Jorge Moll was excited about the findings that they came up with. They noticed that when someone was presented with a moral dilemma, the more the person showed compassion they made the right choice. When faced with these moral dilemmas the primitive part of the brain would become more active. The primitive part of the brain is mostly active when thinking of food or sex. It was exciting for Jorge Moll to see this because it raises the question, could the brain be hard wired? When faced with a dilemma could the primitive part of the brain automatically help in the decision someone makes?

In cases where people had brain damage the results were different. These individuals actually had less empathy and seemed more practical when making decisions. Some psychopaths have no remorse or empathy at all. Which was also a good question for Jorge Moll to present. Should people with brain damage not be held to the same standards? Could people with brain damage not have the same hard wiring as others?

In some cases it showed that the brain almost argued within itself. Depending on the moral problem or the intensity of the dilemma, the brain could actually be hard wired to know the right answer. However arguing within itself because sometimes empathy would rule over practicality.

In animals we do not know for sure what goes on in there heads. Jorge Moll said that when testing rats, if you would shock one rat every time you give the other rat a piece of food. Eventually the rat receiving the food would reject it in order to save the other. That is a very interesting experiment and makes us wonder maybe animals are also hard wired with a moral compass.

Jorge Moll’s exciting experiment with scanning people’s brains leads us to the question, does empathy steer us? Do we have a hard wired moral compass?


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