Item description for The Neuroscience of Fair Play: Why We (Usually) Follow the Golden Rule by Donald W. Pfaff & Edward O. Wilson...
We remember the admonition of our mothers: "Treat others as you want them to treat you." But what if being nice was something we were inclined by nature to do anyway? Renowned neuroscientist Donald Pfaff upends our entire understanding of ethics and social contracts with an intriguing proposition: the Golden Rule is hardwired into the human brain.
Pfaff, the researcher who first discovered the connections between specific brain circuits and certain behaviors, contends that the basic ethics governing our everyday lives can be traced directly to brain circuitry. Writing with popular science journalist Sandra J. Ackerman, he explains in this clear and concise account how specific brain signals induce us to consider our actions as if they were directed at ourselves---and subsequently lead us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Brain hormones are a part of this complicated process, and The Neuroscience of Fair Play discusses how brain hormones can catalyze behaviors with moral implications in such areas as self-sacrifice, parental love, friendship, and violent aggression.
Drawing on his own research and other recent studies in brain science, Pfaff offers a thought-provoking hypothesis for why certain ethical codes and ideas have remained constant across human societies and cultures throughout the world and over the centuries of history. An unprecedented and provocative investigation, The Neuroscience of Fair Play offers a new perspective on the increasingly important intersection of neuroscience and ethics.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1.2 lbs.
Release Date Dec 15, 2007
Publisher Dana Press
ISBN 1932594272 ISBN13 9781932594270
Availability 0 units.
More About Donald W. Pfaff & Edward O. Wilson
Donald W. Pfaff is Professor and Head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior at the Rockefeller University, New York, USA. A Member of the National Academy of Sciences, he was awarded the 2011 Lehrman Lifetime Achievement Award by the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.
Donald W. Pfaff was born in 1939 and has an academic affiliation as follows - Rockefeller University, New York The Rockefeller University The Rockef.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Neuroscience of Fair Play: Why We (Usually) Follow the Golden Rule?
The Golden Rule Apr 6, 2008
In "The Neuroscience of Fair Play", Donald Pfaff takes the reader on a tour showing how neuroscience is beginning to explain the human emotions and behavior of fear, love, friendship, aggression and violence. Pfaff spends much of the books talking about the genes that lay the tendencies for each of these behaviors. Less time seems to be spent on how the environment after birth modifies or can even neutralize some of these tendencies, especially those of aggression and violence. Personally, I would have like to have seen more evidence supporting the books subtitle, "Why We (Usually) Follow the Golden Rule." I was expecting more of an evolutionary approach showing how we share some of the Golden Rule behavior with other animals. Some examples are the gorilla at the Chicago Brookfield Zoo that picked up a unconscious boy who had fallen into the gorilla enclosure and carried it over to zoo-keepers door, or the chimpanzee at another zoo who himself drowned while trying to save an infant who had fallen into the water surrounding the chimpanzee enclosure.
Pfaff stresses the importance of the period during the first few years of a child's life and again during puberty, critical times in determining our behavior as adults. These are periods when the environment of the child is critical in the development of his/her brain. Pfaff ends the book leading the reader into what is sure to be controversial. Should doctors and therapists be prescribing behavior-altering drugs to combat negative genetic tendencies such as aggression and violence? As we move toward a time when doctors may be able to create genetic profiles of their patients, should the patients be allowed to take drugs, not only to combat diseases to which we may be genetically predisposed, but also drugs to change their behavior, to make them "better" people. Doctor's already are prescribing Ritalin to modify the behavior of children with ADHD. Would new drugs to combat aggression and violence be any different?
This is an interesting and well-written book, well worth reading. The scientific evidence is well presented and easy to follow.
An excellent survey, this is especially recommended for libraries strong in business, science, or health. Feb 7, 2008
THE NEUROSCIENCE OF FAIR PLAY: WHY WE (USUALLY) FOLLOW THE GOLDEN RULE offers a key to understanding behavior, based not on moral theory but neuroscience. The ethics governing everyday living have direct connections to brain circuitry, and Dr. Pfaff draws some important connections between brain signals and science to ethical behavior patterns in society. An excellent survey, this is especially recommended for libraries strong in business, science, or health.
Diane C. Donovan California Bookwatch
This is more than an interesting topic, it is scary!! Feb 3, 2008
Just a quick comment on the book:
1.) This book would have been much better as an article than a book.
2.) Most people will either not be able to or will not want to follow the science presented in this book.
3.) While the science in the book is solid, the social conclusions that the author draws from the science is often flawed, or at least highly suspect.
4.) This book is laying the groundwork for justifying the chemical modification of behavior that you have only read about in science fiction books, Prozac x 100. The concluding chapter essentially advocates for the "treating" the most violent criminals with drugs so that they have a better sense of fair play. You may or may not agree with this, but once these processes exist to be applied to criminals they also exist to be applied to other people. The author does not broach this issue and therefore, I believe, implicitly supports such further applications of this science.
5.) #4 may be a good reason to read this book. All the reviews I have seen on this site are not critical enough of the profound implications of this sort of research.