London annual lectures

Good Natured: Mammalian Genes and the Origin of Morality

Patricia Churchland explores the definition of morality and the impacts of our genetics on our perceptions of virtue.

What is the origin of morality? Why are we concerned with virtue? And what exactly does it mean to be moral in terms of our brains and our genes?

Patricia Churchland discusses the neurological processes that promote sociality and cooperation, exploring a philosophical framework to analyse data taken from evolutionary biology, experimental psychology, genetics and neurobiology.

She discusses how mammals have adapted to develop trust, attachment and more complex social structures, and the impact that this has on our perceptions of morality.

  • Speaker

    For decades, Patricia Churchland has contributed to the fields of philosophy of neuroscience, philosophy of the mind and neuroethics. Her research has cantered on the interface between neuroscience and philosophy with a current focus on the association of morality and the social brain. A Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, San Diego and Adjunct Professor at the Salk Institute, Pat holds degrees from Oxford University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of British Columbia. She has been awarded the MacArthur Prize, The Rossi Prize for Neuroscience and the Prose Prize for Science. She has authored multiple pioneering books, her most recent being Touching a Nerve. She has served as President of the American Philosophical Association and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology.