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Hardwired Behavior
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  • Page extent: 240 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.543 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521860017 | ISBN-10: 0521860016)

This book explores the impact of neuroscience research over the past 20 or more years on brain function as it affects moral decisions. Findings show that the mind and brain are very close, if not the same, and that the brain 'makes' the mind. This is bringing about a change of focus from examining mental activity (mentalism) to the physical activity of the brain (physicalism) to understand thinking and behavior. We are discovering that the physical features of the brain play the major role in shaping our thoughts and emotions, including the way we deal with 'moral' issues. This book sets out the historical framework of the transition from 'mentalism' to 'physicalism', shows how the physical brain works in moral decisions and then examines three broad areas of moral decision-making - the brain in 'bad' acts, the brain in decisions involving sexual relations, and the brain in money decision-making.

• An up-to-date review of the current literature on neuroscience research which extends our understanding of social and moral behavior • Examines a range of human behaviors that involve moral decision-making • Explores the consequences of gene and enzyme abnormality as well as hormonal influences on the brain and these behaviors


Acknowledgements; Preface; 1. Neuroscience and morality; 2. Morality and the mind; 3. Beyond the mind zone; 4. Morality and the brain; 5. Bad without conscience; 6. Biology of choice; 7. Sex and the single moral code; 8. Brain biology and sex; 9. Deception; 10. The biology of money; 11. The bad and the mad; 12. Creating a moral brain; Glossary; Notes; Index.


'No one writes as well about these topics as Laurence Tancredi - he is versed in history, philosophy and legal thought with a sophisticated background and understanding of the neurosciences. In this book Dr Tancredi expertly guides the reader through the complex issues of free will and morality and what new insights are gained through discoveries in the science of the brain.' Myrna Weissman, Professor of Epidemiology and Psychiatry, College of Physician and Surgeons, Columbia University

'I've read Dr Tancredi's manuscript carefully and found it fascinating. Dr Tancredi's provocative and challenging thesis is explored lucidly and systematically. He weaves together clinical cases, research findings, and theory into a provocative and wholly original consideration of the entire notion of free-will and the biological bases of moral behavior. He explains how brain structure and function influence the processing and content of our thoughts and the actions that result, creating a highly original and readable synthesis. Dr Tancredi is able to present complex and wide-ranging material in an accessible and comprehensible fashion, making for a truly fascinating tale.' Arthur J. Barsky, Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Director of Psyhiatric Research, Brigham Women's Hospital

'Joining together the forensic skills of a lawyer and a psychiatrist, Tancredi probes the neurological foundations of moral thought in this fascinating new work. If we are indeed 'hardwired' for morality, then we may someday have the power to rehabilitate even those who today seem to stand completely outside the pales of our moral community, such as the serial killer on death row whom Tancredi interviewed for the book. In a speculative and provocative last chapter, he shows that lawyers can imagine the future through 'law fiction,' just as scientists have done for so long through better established genre of science fiction.' Sheila Jasanoff, Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Techonology Studies, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard

'… a genuine contribution to increasing public understanding of neuroscience and moral behavior … In addition to providing content that is easy to read, the author makes his commitment to communication evident in early chapters of the book with simple illustrations of relevant neuroanatomy … a straightforward glossary of terms, and a lengthy but excellent notes section … the close alignment of neuroscientific findings about hardwired behavior with ethical and intelligent thinking that respects and honors personal and cultural values is vital. The concept of close alignment is one with which this reviewer agrees wholeheartedly and one that should be embraced by all neuroscientists.' Nature Neuroscience

'The book's strength lies in its accessibility: the author clearly describes neural systems that contribute to moral behavior, and then relates those systems to illustrative clinical cases. The writing style and topics are at exactly the right level to excite and fascinate undergraduates, especially those from a non-neuroscience background. Highly recommended.' Choice

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