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Bring Back the Bureaucrats
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Animals as Domesticates
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Maureen O'Hara
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A Lawless Breed
Martin Luther King's Biblical Epic

The Neuroscience of Fair PlayThe Neuroscience of Fair Play

Why We (Usually) Follow the Golden Rule

Donald W. Pfaff

Narrated by Jack Chekijian

Approximately 8 hours

Unabridged


Downloadable edition:

buy from Audible


Book published by DANA Press


Several recent books, using anthropology, psychology and evolution, have argued that our ethical or moral life evolved from nature. Now a distinguished neuroscientist takes that proposition a critical step farther, right to the basics: brain signals.

Donald Pfaff, Ph.D., head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior at Rockefeller University, gives us the first book to describe how ethics may be a hardwired function of the human brain.

Pfaff explains how specific brain circuits cause us to consider an action toward another as if it were going to happen to us, prompting us to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Into this picture, he brings various brain hormones that produce or induce forms of moral behavior such as individual heroism, parental love, close friendship, and violence and aggression.

Pfaff solves the mystery of our universal ethical precepts, presenting a rock-solid hypothesis of why humans across time and geography have such similar notions of good and bad, right and wrong.

Donald W. Pfaff , Ph.D., is professor and head of the Laboratory of Neurobiology and Behavior at the Rockefeller University, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has studied the brain and behavior for more than 30 years and is known for discovering the brain-cell targets for steroid hormones and leading the studies that proved that specific chemicals acting in specific parts of the brain determine individual behavioral responses. He has served as editor, or on the editorial board, of 21 journals and is author or co-author of 16 scientific books and more than 600 scientific articles.

REVIEWS:

“Donald W. Pfaff, a leading researcher in this intermediate field, delivers a crystal-clear tour through the relevant technical intricacies of the science. The ideas that emerge are among the most important in their relevance to human affairs. ”

—Edward O. Wilson, from the Foreword

“This new theory is elegant in that it eliminates the need for complex altruism circuits in the brain.... He has succeeded in advancing a testable theory that he and other neuroscientists can start to untangle in the lab. If he is right, it could turn out that the Golden Rule isnít merely religious teaching. It could be encoded in the very circuitry of our brains. ”

Scientific American Mind

“For those interested in the biology of behaviour in human and non-human animals, Pfaff provides a feast of tightly woven facts.... Although there is substantial variation across people in the mechanisms supporting fair play, Pfaff argues persuasively that nearly all humans have the capacity for empathy and this is an essential component of our human nature.”

Times Higher Education Supplement

“Offers a thought-provoking account of how far modern neuroscience has come in explaining aspects of the human condition that have historically fallen exclusively under the domains of nonscientific disciplines, such as philosophy or religion.... He concludes by offering some timely suggestions for applying the ideas outlined in the book to solving some of society''s social ills.... The overall message is powerful.... This would be an excellent resource to use in an interdisciplinary course on morality or ethics. Recommended.”

Choice

“Our brains do more than reason and think. They are also home to ancient processes of fear, aggression, love, and affection. In lucid prose, an eminent neuroscientist explains how emotions guide human morality, thus breaking with centuries of emphasis on rationality.”

—Frans de Waal, author of Primates and Philosopher

“Donald W. Pfaff, a leading researcher in this intermediate field, delivers a crystal-clear tour through the relevant technical intricacies of the science. The ideas that emerge are among the most important in their relevance to human affairs.”

—Edward O. Wilson, from the Foreword

“This new theory is elegant in that it eliminates the need for complex altruism circuits in the brain.... He has succeeded in advancing a testable theory that he and other neuroscientists can start to untangle in the lab. If he is right, it could turn out that the Golden Rule isnít merely religious teaching. It could be encoded in the very circuitry of our brains.”

—Kurt Kleiner, Scientific American Mind

“Pfaff marshals a vast number of different kinds of studies to buttress his premises and sustains a persuasive argument throughout.”

Boston Globe

“For those interested in the biology of behaviour in human and non-human animals, Pfaff provides a feast of tightly woven facts.... Although there is substantial variation across people in the mechanisms supporting fair play, Pfaff argues persuasively that nearly all humans have the capacity for empathy and this is an essential component of our human nature.”

Times Higher Education Supplement





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