Sunday, January 21, 2007

Duke Scientists Find "Charity Spot" in Human Brain

But before assuming that scientific reductionism and determinism win, keep in mind (so to speak) that the experiment merely indicates activity in one spot among "altruistic types." Science has its own internal philosophical tensions indicated themselves by this statement:
Science has grappled with why people will put the welfare of others ahead of their own, even at personal cost. From an evolutionary viewpoint it makes little sense because it does not increase the chances of someone passing on their genes.
Such is indication that science should not swallow certain assumptions about human behavior uncritically, but draw on different possibilities than a limited set of explanations. When pure species self-interest drives an anthropology of human nature in the sciences before experiments begin, then there is bound to be conflict when data do not correspond with hard hypotheses.

There are just as many problems with "rational choice" theory in sociology, which has a hard time explaining altruistic behavior without reference to risk and benefit, even though there are altruists who do not factor risks and benefits as strictly as rational choice suggests.

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