This interview single-handedly reveals everything that is wrong with "neuro-X" fields.
She lost me right at the beginning. Note that "How do we make decisions?" and "How do we learn about the nature of the external world?" aren't philosophical question. They're empirical questions (which, of course, beg philosophical questions, but that's another rant).
This imprecision is endemic to "neuro-X" fields (which are soon to be the new "X Studies" fields). She continued to demonstrate the imprecision with the answer to his question: "I love my child because of [bio]circuits and [bio]chemicals?" / "Yes." The correct, philosophically precise answer, is "No". The issue is that "because of" bit. The "because of" bit means that we are talking causality, and that's tricky business to work out.
It is true that he loves his child by means of
biocircuits and biochemicals, which is to say, the biocircuits and biochemicals are precisely correlated with his loving. But the loving is an action which can happen by means of other
biocircuits and other
biochemicals (for instance, in the case of brain-damaged children or after an epileptic has a corpus callosum divided). Further, (if promissory materialism is to be believed) the loving could occur by means of non-biological and non-chemical circuitry altogether. So the biochemicals and biocircuitry aren't necessary.
The biocircuits and biochemicals also aren't sufficient, in that they need to be properly ordered, something which occurs thanks to environmental input: it's not that Colbert exists in one moment in time, separated from any earlier causality, even though that's how MRI scans work (and even fMRI have a timeline of but a brief moment). The reality is that if Colbert didn't receive the kind of stimulus (read: upbringing) which lead his brain to be ordered in such a way as to be conducive to love (read: taught to love), then it's entirely possible that he wouldn't be able to love. So, does Colbert love his children because of
biocircuitry and biochemicals? Or does he love because of his upbringing situating the biochemicals and biocircuitry in such a way as to be capable of functioning to produce love?
Or does he love because emergent within those biochemicals and biocircuitry is a subjectivity which is capable of experiencing love--a subjectivity that is dependent upon (and perhaps materially identical to) the brain but not reducible to it?
Note that the field's definition itself -- "neuro-X" -- presumes an answer to this question. The answer it presumes is "No", because it is the material, empirically-accessible brain that must be the answer...otherwise, we wouldn't be doing "Neuro-X". So it presumes that the answer is the brain by how it situates the question, then does an analysis within that self-limited paradigm and discovers (Lo! and behold!) that the answer is the brain, and then publishes a book and acts all smug about how everyone else is deluding themselves and overcomplicating questions.
This gets me back to my recurring point: that our assents (which are often tricky and implicit) often define our answers in how we ask and parse the question. For more on that, see here: https://plus.google.com/114670102270110551777/posts/LhsiPZwmfHk