Hardwired Behavior: What Neuroscience Reveals about Morality

Laurence R. Tancredi, Author Cambridge University Press $32 (226p) ISBN 978-0-521-86001-7
Society's assumptions about free will and individual responsibility must be drastically revised in the light of scientific discoveries about the brain, argues this fascinating study. Drawing on a wealth of recent developments in neurobiology, genetics and brain imaging, Tancredi, a professor of psychiatry and a lawyer, examines new findings about the neurological structures and processes that underlie reasoning, emotions and decision-making. He applies these discoveries to such traditional moral concerns as violence, sexual infidelity, lying, gluttony and sloth, and even financial fraud and gambling. The striking results of this research, he notes, indicate that hormones, drugs, genetic abnormalities, injuries and traumatic experiences all have profound effects on brain structure and functioning, and hence on moral choices; indeed, some experiments imply that our actions are initiated by the unconscious brain before we are consciously aware of them, raising the possibility that our sense of moral agency is a retrospective ""illusion."" Tancredi supplements his rather dry exposition of the science with case studies from his clinical practice, including lengthy profiles of a sex-addicted patient and of a ""biologically driven"" serial killer, and closes by pondering the possibility and perils of a hypothetical Brave New World-style program of neurological intervention-complete with brain implants-to improve morality. Some will consider Tancredi's talk of the ""empathetic"" female brain and ""systemizing"" male brain and his chalking up of pedophilia to ""an imbalance of the monoamine neurotransmitters"" and homosexuality to ""differences in neurohumeral activity during the prenatal phase"" to be glibly reductionist, but many will find his well-researched overview of the new science of the brain a stimulating addition to the debate about human nature.
Reviewed on: 09/01/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Show other formats
FORMATS
Open Ebook - 226 pages - 978-1-280-43200-2
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.