<!DOCTYPE html><HTML lang="en"> <head><meta charset="utf-8"> <title>Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain (Gazzaniga (Michael S.)) - Theo Todman's Book Collection (Book-Paper Abstracts)</title> <link href="../../../TheosStyle.css" rel="stylesheet" type="text/css"><link rel="shortcut icon" href="../../../TT_ICO.png" /> </head> <a name="Top"></a> <BODY> <div id="header"> <HR><H1>Theo Todman's Book Collection (Book-Paper Abstracts)</H1></div> <hr><CENTER><TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950><tr><td colspan =1><A HREF = "../BookSummary_6728.htm">Who's in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain</A></td></tr><tr><td colspan =1><A HREF = "../../../Authors/G/Author_Gazzaniga (Michael S.).htm">Gazzaniga (Michael S.)</a></td></tr><tr><td colspan =1>This Page provides (where held) the <b>Abstract</b> of the above <b>Book</b> and those of all the <b>Papers</b> contained in it.</td></tr><tr><td><A HREF="#ColourConventions">Text Colour-Conventions</a></td></tr></tr></TABLE></CENTER><hr> <P ALIGN = "Justify"><FONT Size = 2 FACE="Arial"><FONT COLOR = "0000FF"><B>BOOK ABSTRACT: </B><BR><BR><u>Amazon Book Description</u><FONT COLOR = "800080"><ol type="1"><li>The prevailing orthodoxy in brain science is that since physical laws govern our physical brains, physical laws therefore govern our behaviour and even our conscious selves. Free will is meaningless, goes the mantra; we live in a 'determined' world.</li><li>Not so, argues the renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga as he explains how the mind, 'constrains' the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create. Writing with what Steven Pinker has called 'his trademark wit and lack of pretension,' Gazzaniga ranges across neuroscience, psychology and ethics to show how incorrect it is to blame our brains for our behaviour. Even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, he explains, we are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.</li><li>An extraordinary book, combining a light touch with profound implications, <em>Who's in Charge?</em> is a lasting contribution from one of the leading thinkers of our time. </li></ol></FONT><BR><u>Amazon Customer Review</u><FONT COLOR = "800080"><ul type="disc"><li>This easy-to-read book is skilfully written for a lay readership by a veteran cognitive neuroscientist, famous for his work on split brain patients. It is based on the author's 2009 Gifford Lectures. It addresses not only the question of <a name="1"></a><A HREF="../../../Notes/Notes_1/Notes_120.htm">free will</A><SUP>1</SUP> (Who's in charge? - the title), but also the nature of this "who", i.e. the nature of the <a name="2"></a><A HREF="../../../Notes/Notes_0/Notes_98.htm">self</A><SUP>2</SUP> and of <a name="3"></a><A HREF="../../../Notes/Notes_0/Notes_61.htm">consciousness</A><SUP>3</SUP>. </li><li>The book is composed of seven chapters: <ol type="1"><li>The Way We Are, </li><li>The Parallel and Distributing Brain, </li><li>The Interpreter, </li><li>Abandoning the Concept of Free Will, </li><li>The Social Mind, </li><li>We are the Law, and </li><li>An Afterword. </li></ol></li><li>The American (Amazon.com) website has several eulogious reviews of the book that spell out its numerous merits and award it five stars. I agree with many of those positive comments. The book is indeed packed with interesting information about the neuroscience-psychology interface, and is engagingly and clearly written. </li><li>But it suffers from three weaknesses. <ol type="1"><li>First, in tackling a subject at the intersection of neuroscience and philosophy, the author should have drawn on modern scholarship in both areas. But he fails in this. He describes the work of dozens of modern neuroscientists and psychologists, and briefly mentions a few classical philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Locke), but has nothing to say about modern philosophical scholarship. There is no mention at all of the contributions of philosophers such as <a name="4"></a><A HREF = "../../../Authors/D/Author_Dennett (Daniel).htm">Daniel Dennett</A>, <a name="5"></a><A HREF = "../../../Authors/V/Author_Van Inwagen (Peter).htm">Peter Van Inwagen</A>, Kane, <a name="6"></a><A HREF = "../../../Authors/K/Author_Kim (Jaegwon).htm">Jaegwon Kim</A>, <a name="7"></a><A HREF = "../../../Authors/M/Author_Murphy (Nancey).htm">Nancey Murphy</A> and <a name="8"></a><A HREF = "../../../Authors/M/Author_Miele (Frank).htm">Frank Miele</A>, who have all written extensively on the philosophical questions that the book attempts to address (free will, emergence, selfhood, complementarity and downward causation).</li><li>Second, Gazzaniga fails to define what he means by "free will". This is a serious defect, because the definitional problem is central to the modern debate about free will. I'm not by any means a Dennett fan, but the subtitle of <a name="9"></a>"<A HREF = "../../../BookSummaries/BookSummary_00/BookPaperAbstracts/BookPaperAbstracts_85.htm">Dennett (Daniel) - Elbow Room - The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting</A>" (1984) was a true aphorism: "The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting". Some varieties don't exist but others do, and those are in Dennett's view (and mine) the ones worth wanting.</li><li>Third, in introducing chaos and quantum indeterminism as a defence against hard determinism, Gazzaniga attempts to guide the unsophisticated layman through a deep and difficult controversy, all in eight pages. In my opinion he totally fails to show any relevance of chaos and quantum indeterminism to brain function and free will. </li></ol></li><li>Despite these failings, the book is a fascinating mine of up-to-date information on the cognitive neuroscience related to free will and selfhood. I am glad I bought it. </li></ul></FONT><FONT COLOR = "0000FF"><HR><B>BOOK COMMENT: </B><BR><BR>Robinson; First Edition (1 Sept. 2016)</P> <a name="ColourConventions"></a><hr><br><B><U>Text Colour Conventions</U> (see <A HREF="../../../Notes/Notes_10/Notes_1025.htm">disclaimer</a>)</B><OL TYPE="1"><LI><FONT COLOR = "0000FF">Blue</FONT>: Text by me; &copy; Theo Todman, 2018</li><LI><FONT COLOR = "800080">Mauve</FONT>: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); &copy; the author(s)</li></OL> </center> <BR><HR><BR><center> <TABLE class = "Bridge" WIDTH=950> <TR><TD WIDTH="30%">&copy; Theo Todman, June 2007 - August 2018.</TD> <TD WIDTH="40%">Please address any comments on this page to <A HREF="mailto:theo@theotodman.com">theo@theotodman.com</A>.</TD> <TD WIDTH="30%">File output: <time datetime="2018-08-16T09:33" pubdate>16/08/2018 09:33:30</time> <br><A HREF="../../../Notes/Notes_10/Notes_1010.htm">Website Maintenance Dashboard</A> </TD></TR><TD WIDTH="30%"><A HREF="#Top">Return to Top of this Page</A></TD> <TD WIDTH="40%"><A HREF="../../../Notes/Notes_11/Notes_1140.htm">Return to Theo Todman's Philosophy Page</A></TD> <TD WIDTH="30%"><A HREF="../../../index.htm">Return to Theo Todman's Home Page</A></TD> </TR></TABLE></CENTER><HR> </BODY> </HTML>