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Moral Development and Brain Function Sharon Kay Stoll, Ph.D.

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1 Moral Development and Brain Function Sharon Kay Stoll, Ph.D.

2 Hard Wired 1. The period of time from is the largest period of growth of the moral brain. 1. The period of time from is the largest period of growth of the moral brain. 2. We are hardwired for morality, thus the better the role models, the better the environment - the better the development. 2. We are hardwired for morality, thus the better the role models, the better the environment - the better the development. 3. Because we are hardwired - meaning the brain grows in proportion to the amount of discussion, thought, and reflection - young people need good role models to discuss, argue, and cause them to think about the important issues of life. Gazzaniga, M. (2005). The Ethical Brain. Dana Press. 3. Because we are hardwired - meaning the brain grows in proportion to the amount of discussion, thought, and reflection - young people need good role models to discuss, argue, and cause them to think about the important issues of life. Gazzaniga, M. (2005). The Ethical Brain. Dana Press.

3 Hard Wired for Morality 4. All behavioral traits are heritable (capable of being passed down from one generation to the next). This includes intellect, personality, character, and even criminality. 4. All behavioral traits are heritable (capable of being passed down from one generation to the next). This includes intellect, personality, character, and even criminality.

4 Environment 5. The environmental effect of being raised in the same family is smaller than the effect of genetics. You are attached to a family yes, and the older you get the more your IQ resembles your biological parents - Scary, isn't it? This law stands in stark opposition to the common notion that environmental influence increases throughout life. 5. The environmental effect of being raised in the same family is smaller than the effect of genetics. You are attached to a family yes, and the older you get the more your IQ resembles your biological parents - Scary, isn't it? This law stands in stark opposition to the common notion that environmental influence increases throughout life.

5 Environment 6. Neither genes nor family environment accounts for a VERY large portion of variation in human behavior. Some folks may be born good and some folks may be born bad, but there is something mystical about human behavior that we can't predict - And even if little Johnny has all the good genes and a great family, if he falls into the wrong crowd – look out - 6. Neither genes nor family environment accounts for a VERY large portion of variation in human behavior. Some folks may be born good and some folks may be born bad, but there is something mystical about human behavior that we can't predict - And even if little Johnny has all the good genes and a great family, if he falls into the wrong crowd – look out -

6 Responsibility 7. The idea of responsibility, a social construct that exists in the rules of society, does not exist in the neuronal structures of the brain. 7. The idea of responsibility, a social construct that exists in the rules of society, does not exist in the neuronal structures of the brain.

7 A series of studies suggest that there is a brain-based account of moral reasoning. A series of studies suggest that there is a brain-based account of moral reasoning. Regions of the brain are activated with one kind of moral judgment but not another. Regions of the brain are activated with one kind of moral judgment but not another. Research suggests that when someone is willing to act on a moral belief, it is because the emotional part of the brain has become active when considering the moral question at hand. Research suggests that when someone is willing to act on a moral belief, it is because the emotional part of the brain has become active when considering the moral question at hand. If we don’t know it is a moral issue – then how does one act? If we don’t know it is a moral issue – then how does one act?

8 Hard-wired for Morality Recent neuroscience discoveries are adding twists to this equation. We are getting a handle on brain biology as it relates to specific moral precepts, and in time all of them will be seen as originating, to some degree, in biology. This understanding might suggest that under certain conditions “immoral” behavior is not necessarily the product of willful acts. By controlling behavior, brain biology might be responsible for some of the extreme manifestations of these bad behaviors. In that case, some individual “sins” may not be “sins” at all. Tancredi, L. R., (2003). Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality. Cambridge University Press Recent neuroscience discoveries are adding twists to this equation. We are getting a handle on brain biology as it relates to specific moral precepts, and in time all of them will be seen as originating, to some degree, in biology. This understanding might suggest that under certain conditions “immoral” behavior is not necessarily the product of willful acts. By controlling behavior, brain biology might be responsible for some of the extreme manifestations of these bad behaviors. In that case, some individual “sins” may not be “sins” at all. Tancredi, L. R., (2003). Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality. Cambridge University Press

9 It’s clear.. that character and behavior are indeed a function of both environment and genetics, so that in seeking to remedy our moral failings, we need to address both. Thomas W. Clark, Neuroscience and the Human Spirit“ Meeting the Challenges of Contemporary Brain Research. Conference on Neuroscience and Morality, It’s clear.. that character and behavior are indeed a function of both environment and genetics, so that in seeking to remedy our moral failings, we need to address both. Thomas W. Clark, Neuroscience and the Human Spirit“ Meeting the Challenges of Contemporary Brain Research. Conference on Neuroscience and Morality,

10 We are social creatures and if we are to flourish in our social environments, we must learn how to reason well about what we should do. William D. Casebeer, philosopher at USAFA. We are social creatures and if we are to flourish in our social environments, we must learn how to reason well about what we should do. William D. Casebeer, philosopher at USAFA.

11 What we do at the Center… 1. We teach, serve, and research about character education and sportsmanship. 1. We teach, serve, and research about character education and sportsmanship. 2. We act as consultants for any organization who wishes to educate about ethics and ethical conduct. 2. We act as consultants for any organization who wishes to educate about ethics and ethical conduct. 3. We develop methodologies, materials, guidelines, curriculum, resources. 3. We develop methodologies, materials, guidelines, curriculum, resources. 4. We act as a “think tank” to help others… 4. We act as a “think tank” to help others…

12 Click to add title n Click to add text A Schematic of the process of character education from learning to doing.. EnvironmentModelingCognitive Dissonance *See, T. Lickona, Educating for Character Copyright 1994, Sharon K ay Stoll, Ph.D. Center for ETHICS* Informal LearningFormal Instruction The Triad of Character Development* Valuing Knowing Doing Past & Present Experiences.... Moral Instruction, moral reasoning... Family, Friends, Teachers... Learning Personal Character Character Education

13 Thomas Lickona, Educating for Character Moral Feeling 1. Conscience 2. Self-esteem 3. Empathy 4. Loving the good 5. Self-control 6. Humility Moral Action 1. Competence 2. Will 3. Habit Moral Knowing 1. Moral Awareness 2. Knowing Moral Values 3. Perspective-taking 4. Moral reasoning 5. Decision-making 6. Self-knowledge

14 Moral Reasoning in the Moral Development Process What is the right thing to do? What is the right thing to do? Why is it right? Why is it right? What socio-moral perspectives support this point of view? What socio-moral perspectives support this point of view?

15 The Teaching of Moral Reasoning Can ethics be taught? Can ethics be taught? And if taught, can ethics be measured? And if taught, can ethics be measured?

16 Teaching Paradigm o f SBH* Maieutic Standard  Kohlberg, Levels of Moral Development  Lickona, Educating for Character  Gilligan, Hann  Sport  Business  Education  Military Philosophy of Learning  Moral Reasoning  Values, Principles, and Rules  Embodied  Interactive  Cognitive Philosophic Cognitive Structure Teaching Methodology Knowledge Base of Moral Education Knowledge Base of Content Area Copyright 1994, Sharon K ay Stoll, Ph.D. Center for ETHICS* Behavior  Argumentation  Questioning  Listening  Arrangement  Trust  Respect  Humanistic  Communicator  Risk Taker Skills Environment

17 Why do some programs want what we do The coaches have to believe in the concept of moral development… The coaches have to believe in the concept of moral development… Their effect and responsibility on development of morality Their effect and responsibility on development of morality Take time from their programs to do so. Take time from their programs to do so. Head coach must be a part of the educational plan. Head coach must be a part of the educational plan. Reflection, writing, discussion Reflection, writing, discussion

18 Curriculum 1. A four year program. 1. A four year program. 2. Each year’s curriculum, that is taught in 2-15 minute modules each week covers a wide range or social and moral problems and issues including. 2. Each year’s curriculum, that is taught in 2-15 minute modules each week covers a wide range or social and moral problems and issues including. Recreational Sex Recreational Sex Drugs Drugs Alcohol Alcohol Violence toward Women Violence toward Women Guns Guns Gangs Gangs Honor – Honor – And so forth… And so forth…


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