The Neuroscience of Fair Play

  • by Donald W. Pfaff, Ph.D.
  • Narrated by Jack Chekijian
  • 7 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 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. Writing with popular science journalist Sandra J. Ackerman, 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 of history. An unprecedented and provocative investigation, The Neuroscience of Fair Play offers a new perspective on the increasingly important intersection of neuroscience and ethics.


What the Critics Say

"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)
"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." (Choice)
"For those interested in the biology of behaviour in human and non-human animals, Pfaff provides a feast of tightly woven facts." (Paul J. Zak, Times Higher Education Supplement)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Lots to learn here...

I received this audio book as a gift in exchange for a honest and unbiased review. There is tons of information in this book. I had no idea of how deep the conscience goes or how the brain triggers hormones. I was surprised by some of the test results too. This book explains how the brain is wired and how we know that, along with how are behavior is due to our wiring.

The author, Donald W Pfaff, Ph. D. did a good job researching all this information and writing this book. It is very detailed. The narrator, Jack Chekijian delivers a flawless read of this book, making it easier to follow along.
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- Terri

Interesting but limited thesis

The theories seem OK for as far as they go, but seem a little simplistic to me. Having worked with TBI patients for some years, and jail populations for a similar time, the premise of addressing only theoretically undamaged subjects while seeming to be a proponent of chemical applications for all just doesn't sit very well. Still, it is certainly an interesting piece, and surely on many course reading lists.
Narrator Jack is very good at performing course material. His narration is given at a pace which easily allows for note-taking without having to do the stop/start thing. Combine that with a pleasant voice and clear diction, and you have a winner.
This book was a gift
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- Jan

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-19-2012
  • Publisher: University Press Audiobooks