Stanford Lectures 4: Justice, Morality, Free Will


Official data in SubjectManager for the following academic year: 2023-2024

Course director

  • Dr. Róbert MÁTICS

    associate professor,
    Department of Behavioural Sciences

Number of hours/semester

lectures: 24 hours

practices: 0 hours

seminars: 0 hours

total of: 24 hours

Subject data

  • Code of subject: OXFSB4-z-T
  • 2 kredit
  • Dentistry
  • Optional modul
  • both semesters


Course headcount limitations

min. 5 – max. 15

Available as Campus course for 15 fő számára. Campus-karok: ÁOK GYTK TTK


This course first deals with the evolution of morality. We discuss basic moral questions and the biological background of Right and Wrong. Connected to this, and the next part of the course, is the concept of justice and the associated problems of the criminal justice system. It may be surprising, but these have evolutionary origins as well. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford is currently (January 2023) working on his new book with the title „Determined: The Science of Life Without Free Will”. In the last part of the course, we handle the questions emerging from the argument of the absence of Free Will.


  • 1. General introduction. - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 2. Phineas Gage and the McNaughton Rule: the Difference between Right and Wrong - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 3. The Moral Side of Murder - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 4. The Moral Side of Murder II. - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 5. The Runaway Trolley Dilemma - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 6. The Runaway Trolley Dilemma II. - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 7. Legal Implications: Morality vs Biology - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 8. Age-dependent Morale? - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 9. Doing the Harder Thing Which is the Right Thing - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 10. Descartes’ Error - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 11. Love and Hate - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 12. Development of Moral Standards - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 13. Ability vs. Effort - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 14. What’s needed for Empathy? - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 15. Theory of Mind - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 16. Moral Development in Humans: Piaget - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 17. Moral Development in Humans: Kohlberg - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 18. Do violent video games increase aggression? - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 19. Effects of society on morale (isolation, peer groups, parents) - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 20. Roe vs. Wade and the crime rate in the USA - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 21. Explicit vs. implicit learning - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 22. Moral Reasoning vs. Moral Behaviour - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 23. The attributes of heroes - Dr. Mátics Róbert
  • 24. Summary, Questions, Feedback. - Dr. Mátics Róbert



Reading material

Obligatory literature

Literature developed by the Department



Recommended literature

Robert M. Sapolsky: Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. Penguin Press, May 2, 2017.
Steven Pinker: Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. Viking Press, February 13, 2018.

Conditions for acceptance of the semester

Maximum of 25 % absence allowed

Mid-term exams

Essay (1 or 2 A4 pages) sent per e-mail to within 2 weeks after the course

Making up for missed classes

It is not possible to do make-up classes

Exam topics/questions



Instructor / tutor of practices and seminars