Steve Bein

My primary interest is in compassion—what it is as a neuroethical phenomenon, as a moral virtue, as a guiding principle in ethical decision-making, and as a multifaceted element of Buddhist, Confucian, and Daoist philosophy. My interest in compassion extends to the ethical treatment of marginalized others, especially animals and ecosystems.

Currently I am writing on a problem of moral epistemology: compassion is predicated on knowledge of the internal states of the other, but these are notoriously difficult to ascertain. My research in this area draws on recent findings in neuroscience about mirror neurons and the brain’s ability to accurately imitate the brain states of the other. I also draw on recent interdisciplinary work between Buddhist monks and cognitive psychologists about how we develop reliable theories of mind.