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The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas
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The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  181 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A provocative and fascinating look at new discoveries about the brain that challenge our ethics

The rapid advance of scientific knowledge has raised ethical dilemmas that humankind has never before had to address. Questions about the moment when life technically begins and ends or about the morality of genetically designing babies are now relevant and timely. Our ever-incre...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Harper Perennial (first published 2005)
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Steven Peterson
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...more
Will Byrnes
This is one of the big ones, despite its short length. When is an embryo or a fetus a person? When does a person cease being a person? How much chemical and genetic meddling with the brain is ok? These and a host of other questions are addressed here. Gazzinaga’s style is quite accessible and his content is enlightening.

QUOTES

Xix
I would like to support the idea that there could be a universal set of biological responses to moral dilemmas, a sort of ethics, built into our brains. My hope is that...more
Joy H.
May 02, 2011 Joy H. marked it as keep-in-mind  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brain, ethics, religion
_The Ethical Brain_ (2005) by Michael Gazzaniga ("the father of cognitive neuroscience")
Added 5/2/11. Keep in mind.
See summary at: http://www.dana.org/news/danapressboo...
See excerpt at: http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Ch...
See interesting blog at: http://badgerhut.wordpress.com/2011/0...

This book, according to reviews at Amazon.com:
========================================
-"is a witty, well written, highly informed account of how our brain forms our beliefs"

-"When does life begin? When does i...more
Kent Winward
After having read Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False, Gazzinga's clarity and prose was a nice contrast to Nagel's philosophical jargon. His handling of the intersection of law and neuroscience was intriguing and felt good as a foundational start, but left me feeling short on determining how we need to alter our criminal law concepts of mens rea (criminal intent). He also completely decimates the reliability of eye witness testimony a...more
Richard
Feb 09, 2009 Richard rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those new to the neurology of moral cognition.
Shelves: cognition, nonfiction
I was quickly predisposed to dislike this book, but it ended up being a bit better than I'd expected. In the preface, Gazzaniga tells us he hopes to explore whether there is a universal ethic, an intrinsic morality that exists within all of us. Curious, I flipped to the index and noted that Immanuel Kant would apparently be playing no role in this exploration. That did not bode well, in my opinion, for the author's mission.

In fact, he did mention Kant once. But the "Brain" side of the title defi...more
Jordan Damron
Two stars on Goodreads means "it was ok", and that's these pages were. The best parts of the book, the statistics, could have been compressed to the length of a single page, and I would not have paid 6 dollars for a single page of content. In the rest of the book, Gazzaniga uses a misrepresented titled to bolster his own opinions on abortion, stem cell research, the concept of taking a super pill to make us smarter, with a few studies described in-between. This had nothing to do with the science...more
Adam
May 21, 2007 Adam rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ethicists, Bioethicists, Gazz Fans
Shelves: science
As someone who has worked in Mike Gazzaniga's lab, I don't know that I can provide a fair review, but I'm certainly willing to give my thoughts.

This book marks a departure from Mike's previous work, which have been almost entirely science, research based, into the newly developed field of neuro-ethics. It's a field which he has devoted considerable time and effort in resent years, and it shows in the book.

For those that have never read a Gazzaniga book, he has a wonderfully down to earth style o...more
Leila
Aug 30, 2007 Leila rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This book contains a well thought out essay by Gazzangia, a neuro-scientist on the forefront of brain research, on the advantages and perils involving the use of "neuro-logic". That is, he dissects arguments on morality and ethics involving brain science to seperate "subconscious" and immediate emotional reactions to a subject from the hard facts of the matter. For example, when discussing granting moral status to a human zygote (which has no functioning nervous system), he shows us how a parent...more
Kaitlin
It took me over a month to finish this book. Scratch that. I started this book a month ago and finally talked myself into picking it back up again yesterday.

That said, it really isn't a bad book. The first part just wasn't doing it for me. Rather than being about the science behind morality, the first section was about the morality of science (stem cell research, when a fetus becomes a human, etc). Further, the writing was pretty dry and uninspired. As the book progressed, though, the author got...more
Tracy Black
The title is misleading. This is not a book about how our brain solves moral dilemmas. It's about ethics related to neurology. I don't think I would have bought the book had I read the description closer, but I'm glad I did. It was a nice surprise.

The author was on President Bush's Council on Bioethics during the time of the stem cell debate, and he had much to say on that in the first chapter. He also discussed the ethics of brain enhancement, both with drugs and genetics.

The third section was...more
Jrobertus
Gazzaniga is an accomplished neuroscientist. He was a member of some bioethics committee under the Bush administration, and was clearly annoyed at their lack of scientific understanding. He wrote this book as a sort of minority report, and I'm sure that is useful. He touches on some key social issues and makes a good case that cognitive science is in a unique position to weigh in on these moral issues. That said, the book is not very detailed, nor particularly well written. I felt a bit disappoi...more
Sabio
Jul 15, 2007 Sabio rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Theist
Gazzaniga is an excellent Neuroscience researcher. His data is quoted by all the non-scientists who write about the human mind and philosophy/religion related to human brains. But this book is Gazzaniga dumbed down -- his writing is too simple and repetitious. Some, who don't care to read his other works may, however, enjoy this book.

The book explains how ethics evolves in the brain without a Big MagicMan (read, "God") puts it there or has to write it on stone tablets.

I recommend Matt Ridley's b...more
Patrick
From Amazon:
"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
Joe
The medical terminology is slowing me down. I like the analysis of the issues, I just wish that I was more comfortable with the terminology.

-Joe-

Just finished. This was well worth reading. I found good insights into some of our moral dilemmas. It's about how our brain organizes and sorts some of our beliefs.

-Joe-
Sarah
I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if I hadn't had to do it for a school project. The author also spends way too much time on Western philosophy and assumes that Western philosophy is the philosophy all humans are born with. But there are a lot of really interesting chapters that are worth reading.
Adam
This book was sooo dense. It did not hold my attention after the halfway mark. I learned a lot of interesting tid bits about the brain in this book which is why I gave it 2 stars. If you want to truly retain a good portion of the books information I feel like you need to take notes.
Ko Okamoto
Jun 27, 2007 Ko Okamoto rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: person who learn medical treatment
Shelves: science
this book is written about ES cell, cloning, and other new technbology of human biology.
i think writer's statement is quite cutting edge.and unique.this book is helpful when we arguing human biology.
Olga
Worthy to read the discussion about ethics of abortion and stem cells. Also I recommend the section about free will.
Nicole
Very entertaining and thought provoking. I got a kick out of challenging my own moral and ethical beliefs.
Michelle
Feb 01, 2011 Michelle is currently reading it
I stop and start this book as I need to read it when not tired. Which is never! Very stimulating read.
Robin
This was a good, not great, intro to how our knowledge of the brain/mind affects current ethical dilemmas.
Keya
Feb 05, 2011 Keya marked it as philosophy-of-mind-neurophilosophy
Felix
Good, not great, introduction to how neuroscience and ethics meet.
José
Varias lecturas. Muy amplio.
Lianna
May 15, 2008 Lianna marked it as to-read
nice cover picture
Katie
Katie marked it as to-read
Sep 29, 2014
Alexander
Alexander marked it as to-read
Sep 28, 2014
Kazz Fernandes
Kazz Fernandes is currently reading it
Sep 27, 2014
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Michael S. Gazzaniga, one of the premiere doctors of neuroscience, was born on December 12, 1939 in Los Angeles. Educated at Dartmouth College and California Institute of Technology, he is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind.

His early research examined the subject of epileptics who had undergone surg...more
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