Can brain scans pinpoint morality and virtue? Or, Can an fMRI scan actually figure that out?

USA Today has published an article that discusses extreme claims being made by some brain imaging researchers:

Images that purport to show — in living color — the parts of the brain that generate such virtues as compassion, fairness and wisdom are invading turf that was once reserved for philosophers, theologians and psychologists.

From morality to math, a revolution in “functional” magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which observes brain blood flow, is being used by researchers to pinpoint the pieces of the brain that people rely on to think and feel…

“A lot of these claims are just crazy,” says neurophysiologist Nikos Logothetis of Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. “There is a fundamental mismatch between what these images are showing and what cognitive scientists are claiming for these studies.”


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