We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The neurosciences were the sexy new frontier in the 1990s, but popular writers often offered the impression that any basic science of the central nervous system might have clear implications for understanding the workings of the mind.
The idea that a neurological explanation could exhaust the meaning of experience was already being mocked as “medical materialism” by the psychologist William James a century ago. And today’s ubiquitous rhetorical confidence about how the brain works papers over a still-enormous scientific uncertainty. Paul Fletcher, professor of health neuroscience at the University of Cambridge, says that he gets “exasperated” by much popular coverage of neuroimaging research, which assumes that “activity in a brain region is the answer to some profound question about psychological processes. This is very hard to justify given how little we currently know about what different regions of the brain actually do.” Too often, he tells me in an email correspondence, a popular writer will “opt for some sort of neuro-flapdoodle in which a highly simplistic and questionable point is accompanied by a suitably grand-sounding neural term and thus acquires a weightiness that it really doesn’t deserve. In my view, this is no different to some mountebank selling quacksalve by talking about the physics of water molecules’ memories, or a beautician talking about action liposomes.”
If you would like to read a detailed critique of the neurosciences and the belief that brain states are psychological states, see Raymond Tallis (2011), "Aping Mankind," Acumen Publishing Ltd, Durham, UK. [I got mine from Amazon.]
Tallis is himself a distinguished neuroscientist, and he critiques brain imaging and its interpretation both from a neuroscientific and a philosophic viewpoint. Needless to say, he is very skeptical of the claims of brain imagists.
He is, however, a materialist and has no use for the soul. There seems to be some contradiction in his thinking, but I can't analyze it.
National Public Radio had a clip last week in which the claim was made that scientists have found the place in the brain that accounts for moral decisions. Based on some tests they ran that gave subjects the usual set of phony decisions (a train is running down the track, you can stop it from killing 5 people but only if you switch it to a track where one person will be killed), they said that moral decisions are either utilitarian or emotional and they located the seat of these decisions in some part of the brain that I can't remember.
I would find these claims more credible if they didn't exactly line up with the modern view that God is not referenced when people make these choices. I have no idea how people make moral decisions - probably depends on the person - but I am fairly certain that these people don't know either, their claims notwithstanding.
I think they were psycologists who did the tests.....