I see Ken Perrot of the Secular News Daily has cogitated on our Churchland episode and raised some follow-up questions. Read the article here.
To respond to one of his points:
1: Is consciousness over-rated?
Pat Churchland devoted little of her discussion to the unconscious, or subconscious, aspects of human morality. The conscious aspects are important to understanding social rules and lawmaking, and to understanding how humans set up moral societies. But at the day-to-day and personal level our instincts and intuitions are critical. We operate largely in the automatic mode.
I am sure Pat acknowledges the important role of the subconscious, it’s just that in this discussion it was not really covered.
The distinction is not covered in the book using the term "subconscious" either, I believe. She considers both our moral gut reactions and those more well-considered ones, though, and I think believes them to be explained by the same biological, evolutionary, and cultural mechanisms for the most part. I didn't get any kind of Freudian vibe from the book whereby what we consciously assert might be at great variance with what we really deep down believe and act on.
I've tried to address Perrott's second question--"What do we mean by 'right' and 'wrong?'"--via this blog post and our subsequent discussion of it, because I agree that there's something missing from the discussion in her book about it, which our discussion on Hume in the episode was meant to fill in.
That Guy Montag says
I agree that it doesn’t look like the subconscious play a part in Churchland’s overall argument and for the reason you give, I do however think it’s strange that she still thinks its possible to distinguish between reason and emotion, particularly in the way Hume’s is/ought is commonly seen to, without one.