Item description for The Ethical Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga...
Will increased scientific understanding of our brains overturn our beliefs about moral and ethical behavior? How will increasingly powerful brain imaging technologies affect the ideas of privacy and of self-incrimination? Such thought-provoking questions are rapidly emerging as new discoveries in neuroscience have raised difficult legal and ethical dilemmas. Michael Gazzaniga, widely considered to be the father of cognitive neuroscience, investigates with an expert eye some of these controversial and complex issues in The Ethical Brain.
He first examines "lifespan neuroethics" and considers how brain development defines human life, from when an embryo develops a brain and could be considered "one of us" to the issues raised as the brain ages, such as whether we should have complete freedom to extend our lives and enhance our brains through the use of genetics, pharmaceuticals, and training.
Gazzaniga also considers the challenges posed to the justice system by new discoveries in neuroscience. Recent findings suggest that our brain has already made a decision before we become fully aware of doing so, raising the question of whether the concept of personal responsibility can remain a fundamental tenet of the law. Gazzaniga argues that as neuroscience learns more about the unreliability of human memory, the very foundation of trial law will be challenged.
Gazzaniga then discusses a radical re-evaluation of the nature of moral belief, as he not only looks at possibly manipulating the part of the brain that creates beliefs but also explores how scientific research is building a brain-based account of moral reasoning.
The Ethical Brain is a groundbreaking volume that presents neuroscience's loaded findings—and their ethical implications—in an engaging and readable manner, offering an incisive and thoughtful analysis of the medical ethics challenges confronting modern society at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.75" Width: 6" Height: 9" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date Apr 29, 2005
Publisher Dana Press
ISBN 1932594019 ISBN13 9781932594010
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More About Michael S. Gazzaniga
Michael S. Gazzaniga is Professor of Psychology and Director for the SAGE Center for the Study of Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In addition, he is the Director of the Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience, President of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute, and a member of the President's Council on Bioethetics.
Michael S. Gazzaniga has an academic affiliation as follows - University of California, Santa Barbara, Dartmouth College Dartmouth C.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Ethical Brain?
the moral dilemma Aug 15, 2008
A dicussion about how the brain makes decisions. when there are problems --how the brain responds.
Only an overview Sep 5, 2007
This is not a comprehensive study of ethics and the human brain, but it is an interesting overview.
There is apparently a hard wired ethical part of the brain. World wide, despite cultural differences, there is widespread unanimity on what is ethical. The cultural differences arise in out *interpretations* of the choices we make. (Oddly, my interpretation of Genesis came to the same conclusion years ago: mankind's sense of good and evil arose before religion.) Belief systems come from the interpreter part of the brain that tries to bring together data into a coherent whole.
My thought on this topic is that this commonality of ethics could (and should) be used to bring the human race together. I hope scientists work on that aspect of brain studies.
This book is only one of many, but it is one of the simplest and therefore more accessible to those of us who are non scientists.
Interesting discussion of the brain and ethics Aug 10, 2007
At the outset, esteemed neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga says that (page xiv): ". . . understanding how strong beliefs about anything become established in our minds has been a goal in my scientific life." A bit later, he points out his central focus (page xviii): To me, one of the crucial lessons neuroscience teaches us is that the brain wants to believe."
He touches on the development of the brain--from embryo to the aged, in Part I. He speaks of a variety of ways that have been suggested for "brain enhancement" (the title of Part II), from genetics, to practice, to drugs.
Part III explores the implications of the brain for issues such as free will, responsibility, and so on.
Part IV is the culmination of the brief volume--with a focus on (the title of this segment) "The nature of moral beliefs and the concept of universal ethics." Not all will be convinced by his arguments, but they are thought provoking. Chapter 9 explores how the brain facilitates development of beliefs that humans can use to make sense of things. He observes that a segment of the brain (page 148) "includes a special region that interprets the inputs that we receive every moment and weaves them into stories to form the ongoing narrative of our self-image and beliefs." Once such narratives are developed, people "stick with them." Religion is one such example. In the final chapter, he argues for development of a universal ethics. I am not so sure that his argument is compelling, but, again, it does spark interesting reflection.
All in all, a well done book from a major figure in neuroscience.
Science restrained by politics and religion Mar 18, 2007
The author is a well known scientist who in general tries to be objective, but in this book he commits a very large and unscientific "sin" because he first states that our mental capacities, including those that give us our species-specific morality (this is my own term) are limited by the biology of our brain, and then later on he states that in spite of such limitations of our brain he can not really deny or doubt the existence of free will (such as the free will to: have mental retardation, or to have Schizophrenia, or simply to be free from the chain of cause-effect events logic). It is possible that having worked as a science adviser for the Bush administration he tried to have it both ways, as he did some science, for his resume, but then he corrupted it to avoid upseting his master (his courage is not even close to Galileo's as Gazzaniga was just risking to loose Bush-government grants).
Thinking without thinking Nov 10, 2006
"The Ethical Brain" is a well written and easly understood book, but somewhat academic in nature. It covers both the known areas of brain function and discusses much of the unkown process of the brain. Excellent reading.
However, the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell should be read after reading "The Ethical Brain". These two books complement each other.