Michael S. Gazzaniga

Who’s in Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain Publication date : April 19, 2013

Michael S. Gazzaniga is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a leading pioneer in cognitive neuroscience. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Institute of Medicine. The Social Brain, one of his earlier books, was translated into French, as Le Cerveau Social.

A powerful orthodoxy in the study of the brain has taken hold in recent years: since physical laws govern the physical world and our own brains are part of that world, physical laws therefore govern our behavior and even our conscious selves. Free will is an illusion, goes the argument.
Not so, says the author, arguing that the mind, which is somehow generated by the physical processes of the brain, ‘constrains’ the brain just as cars are constrained by the traffic they create.
Michael S. Gazzaniga examines the lacunae in the pro-determinism argument and shows that even given the latest insights into the physical mechanisms of the mind, there is an undeniable human reality: we are responsible agents who should be held accountable for our actions, because responsibility is found in how people interact, not in brains.
• The key issue: determinism (a physical process) versus free will (consciousness)
• State-of-the-art neuroscience and psychology brought together by a leading expert in the field