Research Unit

The Moral Brain

19 April 2019 → Ongoing
Group leader
Research disciplines
  • Humanities
    • Philosophy of mind
The Moral Brain (TMB) is the initiative that Jan Verplaetse started in 2004 together with Johan Braeckman (Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent University). TMB is an interdisciplinary research community that unites Belgian and Dutch researchers who study – amongst other topics - moral and immoral behavior, moral emotions and the development of ethical judgments from a neuroscientific and evolutionary perspective. Besides doing research inspired by contemporary insights gained from the neurosciences, evolutionary psychology, behavioral economy, anthropology and other disciplines, TMB highlighs current developments and innovative insights in international research. At its apex TMB included more than twenty researchers or affiliated researchers from other faculties and universities, investigated – empirically and theoretically - a rich variety of different topics such as cheating detection, empathy, critical thinking, sibling incest, free will, religion, art, irrational beliefs, etc., and frequently organized Moral Brain Meetings from 2005 until 2013. International conferences were visited, contacts with international leading experts were maintained and TMB was integrated in a more broader FWO-sponsored network HEBEN (Human Evolution and Behavior Network). The following overview summarizes topics and members. Only members with an asterisk (*) were members of the Ghent Faculty of Law: A. Evolutionary theory and philosophy of biology (Johan Braeckman, Koen Tanghe, Alexis Detiège) B. Critical thinking (Johan Braeckman, Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke) C. Prehistorical art and aesthetic judgement (Johan Desmedt, Helen Decruz, Eveline Seghers) D. Morality D.1. cheating detection and empathy (Jan Verplaetse*, Sven Vanneste, Jelle De Schrijver, Katinka Quintelier, Rutger Goedkoop, Dirk De Ridder) D.2. Disgust and sibling incest (Jan Verplaetse*, Delphine De Smet*, Lien Van Speybroeck) D.3. Free will, brain and criminal law (Jan Verplaetse*, Farah Focquaert) E. Empirical philosophy (Katinka Quintelier, Lieuwe Zijlstra)