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Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain | [Michael S. Gazzaniga]

Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain

The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions.
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Publisher's Summary

The father of cognitive neuroscience and author of Human offers a provocative argument against the common belief that our lives are wholly determined by physical processes and we are therefore not responsible for our actions.

A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: Since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a “determined” world.

Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga in this thoughtful, provocative book based on his Gifford Lectures - one of the foremost lecture series in the world dealing with religion, science, and philosophy. Who's in Charge? proposes that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, “constrains” the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called “his trademark wit and lack of pretension”, Gazzaniga shows how determinism immeasurably weakens our views of human responsibility; it allows a murderer to argue, in effect, “It wasn’t me who did it - it was my brain.” Gazzaniga convincingly argues that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: We are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.

An extraordinary book that ranges across neuroscience, psychology, ethics, and the law with a light touch but profound implications, Who’s in Charge? is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time.

©2011 Michael S. Gazzaniga (P)2011 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"A fascinating affirmation of our essential humanity." (Kirkus)

What Members Say

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    eric Croydon, Pa, United States 08-25-13
    eric Croydon, Pa, United States 08-25-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Great book"
    Any additional comments?

    There is a lot of interesting information in this book. The title would have you believe it is about the unconscious mind but its really about the whole brain, and whole person for that matter. He does go off on a lot of different tangents, but very interesting ones.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Josiah emlenton, PA, United States 01-24-12
    Josiah emlenton, PA, United States 01-24-12
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    "Good... if a bit dry"
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    The book is good. The author does an ok job of explaining in layman's terms some the more difficult ideas. The book also delves into some of the more philosophical implications of the authors research.

    2 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Marietta, GA, United States 01-20-12
    Paul Marietta, GA, United States 01-20-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Academic"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    This book was very academic. Down to the siting of references every few minutes. I have a masters degree but found a lot of the content to be over my head.


    6 of 26 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Duncan Calgary, Alberta, Canada 01-16-12
    Duncan Calgary, Alberta, Canada 01-16-12 Member Since 2011

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    "Informative and generally comprehendable"
    What did you love best about Who's in Charge??

    Plain English in a field of in penetrable jargon


    Which character – as performed by Pete Larkin – was your favorite?

    Non fiction, no characters


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A film of the mind


    1 of 9 people found this review helpful
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