The Ethical Brain (Hardcover)

The Ethical Brain By Michael S. Gazzaniga Cover Image
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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.

About the Author


Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D, is the David T. McLaughlin Distinguished Professor at and the director of the Center of Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth College. He has served on the President's Council on Bioethics since 2001, is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is the president-elect of the American Psychological Society.

Praise For…


"If it were possible for this book to have been written a couple of thousand years ago, we might have avoided a lot of misery. What an important question it raises: what is known about the brain that can guide us in forming a set of rational ethical principles? The great frontier before us is the question of how we will deal with one another, and this fascinating book gets us on our way. "—Alan Alda


— Alan Alda

"Michael Gazzaniga is one of the country's preeminent brain scientists and a keen observer of much about human behavior. Not content merely to serve on the President's Council on Bioethics, he took the opportunity to formulate a new understanding of how the emerging field of neuroscience might actually allow us to solve what seem to be so many intractable ethical issues raised by modern medicine. This is a witty, well written, highly informed account of how our brain forms our beliefs and how we can determine what beliefs serve us best."—Robert Bazell, chief health and science correspondent, NBC News


— Robert Bazell

"Wonderfully nourishing food for thought. Gazzinaga tackles some of the toughest ethical issues of our time with vigor, intelligence, and insight."—Diane Ackermann, author of An Alchemy of Mind

— Diane Ackerman

"When does life begin? When does it end? Is there a universal morality? Michael Gazzaniga gives us the scientific data behind these fundamental questions. His exciting book provides new insights for researchers and for all of us on brain research and ethical issues."—Michael I Posner, University of Oregon

— Michael I. Posner

"Michael Gazzaniga, a pioneer of cognitive neuroscience, has written a compelling, accessible, and opinionated book that illuminates the profound issues that arise when modern neuroscience intersects with the concerns of ethics, religion, and public policy."—Steven Hyman, provost, Harvard University


— Steven Hyman

"The study of the brain is the 21st century's hottest subject not only in science but also in philosophy. If, as science now tells us, we are nothing more than robots controlled by a chemical analog computer called the brain, where does that leave such quaint notions as ethical behavior? Who better to say than one of the two most brilliant experimental neuroscientists in the world, Michael Gazzaniga? This is a provocative and highly readable book."—Tom Wolfe

— Tom Wolfe

"The Ethical Brain is an extraordinary book. Michael Gazzaniga asks profound questions about life, ethics, the brain, reason, and irrationality. His discussion of these issues—ones that perplex ethicists, philosophers, and psychologists—is lucid, provocative, and deeply interesting. This is an important and fascinating book.”—Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine



— Kay Redfield Jamison

"A thoughtful and accessible introduction to an entirely new domain of moral concern. Gazzaniga writes with verve and expertise about the fascinating issues that will confront us as our knowledge of the brain expands."—Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Blank Slate and How the Mind Works


— Steven Pinker

"An eminent neuroscientist carefully and yet provocatively explores how neuroscience can shape an ethical discussion about brain science in our society . . . a very readable book."—Fred Gage, Adler Professor, Laboratory of Genetics, The Salk Institute for Biological Studies


— Fred Gage

"He calls on both sides of his brain to write a book that's part science and part philosophy, making a convincing plea for an ethical code informed by scientific understanding."—Psychology Today


— Psychology Today

"Stimulating, very readable and at its most edifying when it sticks to science . . . a cultural contribution in itself."—New York Times Book Review


— Sally Satel

"A readable, well-informed, and provocative book . . . A refreshingly accessible source of relevant and insightful information about neuroscientific issues of timely import."—The Lancet

 


— Lancet

"It matters to me what Michael Gazzaniga thinks about the brain and, if you live in the United States, it should matter to you, too. In 2002, Gazzaniga was appointed to the President's Council on Bioethics and so his views on cloning, euthanasia, neurological enhancement and embryonic stem cell research will help shape US law and policy. Gazzaniga is an admirably clear writer who assumes no expertise on the part of his reader. . . . This [treatment] shows ethical reasoning at its best--rooted in common sense but also informed by a sharp, inquisitive mind and a deep appreciation of the facts."--Nature

 


— Paul Bloom

"A book that's part science and part philosophy, making a convincing plea for an ethical code informed by scientific understanding."
— Psychology Today

"The Ethical Brain delivers its message with . . . wit, and there is much to learn from its discourses on such topics as increased longevity and how aging works in the brain, the prospects for enhancing natural intelligence through genetics or drugs, and the reliability of lie detectors and other 'mind-reading' devices."--Lynn Yarris, Mercury News
— Lynn Yarris

" If it is the case . . . that all of our thoughts, feelings, and actions are reducible to the level of brain physiology and biochemistry, what becomes of ethics? This is the central question that Michael Gazzaniga addresses in this readable, well-informed, and provocative book."--Stephan L. Chorover, The Lancet
— Stephan L. Chorover

"Interesting and enjoyable . . . the strength of the book is the author's perspective as a neuroscientist, which will introduce the reader to complex aspects of neuroscience in relation to behavior in society. . . . The problems highlighted and illuminated by this highly readable book are worth considering."--Richard Camicioli, MD, Journal of the American Medical Association
— Richard Camicioli

"Michael Gazzaniga, a leading neuroscientist and member of President Bush's bioethics council, takes readers on a tour of neuroethics, a moral minefield created by our exploding understanding of the brain. Gazzaniga eschews easy answers in exploring the potential and limits of neuroscience."--USA Today

 




— USA Today

"A lively and generally accessible book. . . . The strengths of the book are the gems about neuroscience research and research in general, that often go unstated and unrecognized in tehe rush to apply scientific findings to numerous social problems. . . . Especially valuable are points Gazzaniga raises that are well developed and on target in considering the implications of neuroscience for the criminal justice system. . . . Exciting."--New England Journal of Medicine  
— Stephanie J. Bird

"Gazzaniga has written an intelligent, insightful, and provocative book that is ready to assume its place in the line of important contributions that evolutionary science and sociobiology have made toward the development of a scientifically based ethic. . . . This book is most compelling in its demonstration of the critically important insights that cognitive neuroscience has to offer in current moral debates."
— John Weagraff


Product Details
ISBN: 9781932594010
ISBN-10: 1932594019
Publisher: Dana Press
Publication Date: April 29th, 2005
Pages: 232
Language: English