Can neuroscience provide a foundation for ethics?

Maura Pilotti reviews The Ethical Brain by Michael S. Gazzaniga, in Metapsychology:

In The Ethical Brain, Michael S. Gazzaniga teaches us something about making informed decisions in settings where our personal sense of right and wrong does not seem to provide an unequivocal answer. The guiding theme of his book is what Gazzaniga calls Neuroethics, the notion that knowledge of the brain’s functioning and organizational structure can ground our views of controversial issues as well as inform our decisions on the appropriate course of action.  In defining Neuroethics, Gazzaniga presents readers with timely and important issues, explores the multifaceted claims that render them controversial, and applies his training in neuroscience to craft a solution that is based on scientific evidence and reason rather than dogma.  If knowledge of neuroscience cannot assist him in formulating a reasonable answer, he draws attention to what he considers to be the limitations (either current or long-standing) of such knowledge.  Even when he has an answer, Gazzaniga is always respectful of all points of view.  In doing so, he highlights another interesting theme of this book, which is its recognition that ethical matters are generally multi-layered, they have divisive ramifications and, often, there are no universally satisfactory or pleasing answers for the dilemmas they pose.

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