MIT scientists applied magnetic fields to the right temporo-parietal junction, which has been shown with fMRI imaging to be involved in thinking about “judgements involving other people’s intentions,” and how those intentions alter the morality of their actions. In their experiments……the researchers found that when the right TPJ was disrupted, subjects were more likely to judge failed attempts to harm as morally permissible. Therefore, the researchers believe that [magnetic stimulation] interfered with subjects’ ability to interpret others’ intentions, forcing them to rely more on outcome information to make their judgments.”
While fascinating, it’s worth noting that the magnetic stimulation affects just this single aspect of morality, the weighing of intention, a limitation the scientists admit. Indeed, the extremely narrow scope of the experiment problematizes any conclusions one might wish to draw about morality, its sources or bases, and how it functions.
It’s hardly novel that physical interference with the brain can produce exceptional mental phenomena, as discussed by Julian Jaynes and Oliver Sacks and scores of others. It remains to be seen what -if anything- such experiments say about the nature of mind or its reducibility.
This will look so good in the garage of my Ferris Bueller house, where I can reenact the “turn-back-the-odometer” scene
over and overat least once. But I’m going to have to sell my Full House house and my Twin Peaks house in order to afford it.