Synopses & Reviews
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.
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.
About the Author
Michael S. Gazzaniga is the director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The author of Human: The Science Behind What Makes Your Brain Unique and The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas, he is president of the Cognitive Neuroscience Institute; founding director of the MacArthur Foundation's Law and Neuroscience Project; and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences. Michael lives in California. Pete Larkin, an AudioFile Earphones Award winner, has wide voice-over and on-camera experience and has worked in virtually all media. He was the public address announcer for the New York Mets from 1988 to 1993. He has worked as a disc jockey in Baltimore, Washington, and New York, including as host of WNEW-FM's highly rated "Saturday Morning Sixties" program. An award-winning on-camera host, Pete has worked on many industrial films for many of the country's top companies, corporations, and governmental agencies and has done hundreds of commercials, promos, and narrations. His theater experience includes a variety of dramatic, comedic, and musical roles.