Neuroethics is typically conceived of as consisting of two traditions: the ethics of neuroscience and the neuroscience of moral judgment. However, recent work has sought to draw philosophical and ethical implications from the neuroscience of moral judgment. Such work, which concerns normative moral neuroscience (NMN), is sufficiently distinct and complex to deserve recognition as a third tradition of neuroethics. Recognizing it as such can reduce confusion among researchers, eliminating conflations among both critics and proponents of NMN.
This article identifies and unpacks some of the most prominent goals, characteristic assumptions, and unique arguments in NMN and addresses some of the strongest objections NMN faces. The paper synthesizes these considerations into a set of heuristics, or loose discovery principles, that can help overcome obstacles in and attenuate resistance to NMN. These heuristics may simultaneously help identify those projects in NMN that are most likely to be fruitful and help fortify them.