The Neuroscience of Fair Play: Why We (usually) Follow the Golden Rule

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9781932594270: The Neuroscience of Fair Play: Why We (usually) Follow the Golden Rule
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We remember the admonition of our mothers: "Treat others as you want them to treat you." But what if being nice was something we were inclined by nature to do anyway? Renowned neuroscientist Donald W. Pfaff upends our entire understanding of ethics and social contracts with an intriguing proposition: the Golden Rule is hardwired into the human brain. Pfaff, the researcher who first discovered the connections between specific brain circuits and certain behaviors, contends that the basic ethics governing our everyday lives can be traced directly to brain circuitry. He explains in this clear and concise account how specific brain signals induce us to consider our actions as if they were directed at ourselves - and subsequently lead us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Brain hormones are a part of this complicated process, and The Neuroscience of Fair Play discusses how brain hormones can catalyze behaviors with moral implications in such areas as self-sacrifice, parental love, friendship, and violent aggression. Drawing on his own research and other recent studies in brain science, Pfaff offers a thought-provoking hypothesis for why certain ethical codes and ideas have remained constant across human societies and cultures throughout the world and over the centuries. An unprecedented and provocative investigation, "The Neuroscience of Fair Play" offers a new perspective on the increasingly important intersection of neuroscience and ethics.

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The Neuroscience of Fair Play Contends that the basic ethics governing our everyday lives can be traced directly to brain circuitry. This book explains an account of how specific brain signals induce us to consider our actions as if they were directed at ourselves - and subsequently lead us to treat others as we wish to be treated. Full description

Review:

0;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 isn7;t merely religious teaching. It could be encoded in the very circuitry of our brains.1;2;"Scientific American Mind"
""
-- Kurt Kleiner "Scientific American Mind" (12/01/2007)

"His sections on parenting, sexual love and aggression are intriguing . . . appeals primarily to those with a strong interest in the brain and the science of behavior."--Publishers Weekly

"The Neuroscience of Fair Play is a highly readable and insightful look at brain systems that mediate aggression, fear, compassion, love, judgment, and decision making and determine how we behave, either according to the Golden Rule or otherwise. Donald Pfaff is a pre-eminent neuroscientist with the breadth of knowledge and depth of thinking that enables him to move easily between molecules and complex behaviors. He also has a rare ability to explain science in an entertaining and highly understandable way."--Bruce S. McEwen, professor and head of the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology at The Rockefeller University and author of The End of Stress As We Know It -- Bruce S. McEwen, MD (09/14/2007)

"The Neuroscience of Fair Play successfully highlights important issues in a young field of inquiry." -- Prashanth Ak "Science" (05/02/2008)

The Neuroscience of Fair Play successfully highlights important issues in a young field of inquiry. -- Prashanth Ak "Science" (05/02/2008)

"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 isn't merely religious teaching. It could be encoded in the very circuitry of our brains."--Kurt Kleiner, "Scientific American Mind"
""

--Kurt Kleiner"Scientific American Mind" (12/01/2007)

""The Neuroscience of Fair Play" successfully highlights important issues in a young field of inquiry."--"Science" --Prashanth Ak"Science" (05/02/2008)

"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." Paul J./i>""--Paul J. Zak"Times Higher Education Supplement" (04/10/2008)"

"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." C.A. Lindgren, "Choice"""""--C. A. Lindgren"CHOICE" (05/01/2008)"

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 isn t merely religious teaching. It could be encoded in the very circuitry of our brains. Kurt Kleiner, "Scientific American Mind"
""
--Kurt Kleiner"Scientific American Mind" (12/01/2007)"

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