In his latest book, Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain, respected neuroscientist, Michael S. Gazzaniga, explores how the discoveries of neuroscience impact how we see ourselves as human beings. After providing a brief review of 20th century neuroscience, and even some of the work from the past decade, Dr. Gazzaniga concludes that nothing neuroscience has discovered changes the fact that "we are personally responsible agents and are to be held accountable for our actions."
Gazzaniga's position contrasts with those who think that recent discoveries show that the brain creates the mind in solely "upwardly causal" way, and who argue that since much of what our brain does is outside our conscious awareness or control, we should not be held responsible for our actions. Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain presents what I think is a convincing argument against this common position.
In the latest episode of the Brain Science Podcast (BSP 82) I present a detailed discussion of Dr. Gazzaniga's book.
How to get this episode:
- Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain, by Michael S. Gazzaniga.
- The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas, by Michael S. Gazzaniga.
- A Different Universe: Reinventing Physics from the Bottom Down, by Robert B. Laughlin (2006).
- Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter, by Terrence W. Deacon.
- Anderson, P. W., (1972). "More is different." Science, 177(20470, 393-396.
- See the free episode transcript for additional references.
- Links to episodes of the Brain Science Podcast that are mentioned in BSP 82.
- BSP 81: Interview with Patricia Churchland about the brain and morality.
- BSP 53: Discussion of Did My Neurons Make Me Do It?: Philosophical and Neurobiological Perspectives on Moral Responsibility and Free Will by Nancey Murphy, Warren S. Brown. (Also BSP 62)
- BSP 35: Discussion of Mirror Neurons.
- BSP 66: For more on scrub jays.
- BSP 3: Memory and the use of animal models.
- BSP 38: Interview with Jeff Hawkins.
- BSP 47: Brain Evolution.
- BSP 74: "Small world architecture" in brain networks (Olaf Sporns).
- BSP 75: Interview with David Eagleman (arguments for legal reform).
- BSP 76: "Choking" with Dr. Sian Beilock.
- BSP 56: Interview with Eve Marder (implications of muliple realizability in neuronal circuits).
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- Next month's episode will be an interview with Bill Uttal, author of Mind and Brain: A Critical Appraisal of Cognitive Neuroscience
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