Neurophilosophy of Global Security

Neuroscience has made important advances in recent decades, bringing us unprecedented insights into the human brain and, generally, human nature. 

Brain imaging tools such as the FMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), have revealed important facts about mysteries such as human behaviour, emotions, morality, social cooperation, the neuroanatomy of trauma, decision-making and power, among others. The cluster on neuro-philosophy of global security at the GCSP aims to integrate the findings of neuroscience into the larger debate on global security and policy analysis. While human nature has been central to political theory, the understanding of what drives humans and states has been more speculative than scientific prior to the advent of neuroscience. Neuro-philosophy pioneers this interdisciplinary connection and advances an understanding of human nature that is informed by neuroscience.  This has important policy implications and helps nuance the understanding of contested and contentious notions such as morality and power. At the heart of this debate is the concept of human dignity, which has proven central to good governance, stability and security. This understanding helps explain important contemporary security issues, notably political transitions, revolutions and regime transformations.

Neuroscience and global security tend to be studied separately. There is, however, much scope for cross-examination. The cluster publishes a series of publications demonstrating the relevance of neuroscience in public policy, international relations and geopolitics, and holds courses exploring topics such as ‘the neuroscience of morality’, ‘the neuroscience of violence and conflict’, ‘the neuroscience of torture’, ‘the neuroscience of negotiations’ and ‘neuroscience and leadership’. Furthermore, activities in this cluster also explore new concepts and paradigms in international relations and geopolitics, such as symbiotic realism, multi-sum security and sustainable history.


Prof. Nayef Al-Rodhan
Head of the Geopolitics and Global Futures Programme

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