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Books, Journals, New Media
October 19, 2005

Ethical Brain

Author Affiliations

Books, Journals, New Media Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA; Journal Review Editor: Brenda L. Seago, MLS, MA, Medical College of Virginia Campus, Virginia Commonwealth University.

JAMA. 2005;294(15):1970-1971. doi:10.1001/jama.294.15.1970-b

The Ethical Brain examines aspects of the brain and brain function relevant to society, from the perspective of a pioneering cognitive neuroscientist who has made major inroads in the study of so-called “split brain” patients. The author is a member of the current President’s Council on Bioethics and has therefore been involved in examining ethical issues of public and governmental interest.

The book has four main sections: “Life-Span Neuroethics,” “Brain Enhancement,” “Free Will, Personal Responsibility and the Law,” and “The Nature of Moral Beliefs and the Concept of Universal Ethics.” Thus, the themes evolve from the cellular to the philosophical. Each chapter ends with a “Perspectives” section that more or less recapitulates the chapter. Although the book covers a broad range of topics, it is far from a comprehensive discussion of the pertinent ethics and likely was not intended to be. Gazzaniga is open about personal perspectives.

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