Responsible Brains

The book I have written with William Hirstein and Tyler Fagan for MIT Press now has an Amazon page. Our publication date is December 11.

I am over the moon about the “blurbs” we earned from some outstanding moral philosophers. Here they are:

“Hirstein, Sifferd, and Fagan bring responsibility into closer contact with neuroscience than ever before. Their bold, original, and provocative theory is backed by forceful philosophical argument combined with detailed knowledge of the brain, and they deploy it to illuminate numerous controversial cases. Everyone interested in these important issues should carefully study this tour de force.”

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics, Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, Duke University

“This is a superb book. It articulates and defends an attractive, scientifically informed theory of responsibility. It instructively applies that theory to such issues as juvenile responsibility, legal insanity, the culpability of psychopaths, and grounds for punishment. And it is written in highly accessible prose. Responsible Brains is a gem that will appeal to a broad audience, including readers primarily concerned with the practical aspects of moral and legal responsibility and those who approach the topic from a largely theoretical perspective.”

Alfred R. Mele, William H. and Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy, Florida State University

“Neuroscientists, the general public and some philosophers have worried that neuroscience will show that we cannot be morally responsible for our behavior. In this groundbreaking book, William Hirstein, Katrina Sifferd, and Tyler Fagan present a compelling case for thinking that neuroscience can help to underwrite moral responsibility, as well as to enable us to distinguish responsible agents from those who cannot be held responsible. It is required reading for philosophers, lawyers, and anyone interested in contemporary brain science, agency and what it means to be human.”

Neil Levy, Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University, and Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

Responsible Brains is necessary reading for anyone interested in the relation between responsibility (moral and legal) and current brain science. Drawing heavily on contemporary empirical research on the brain, the authors defend the view that what matters most is a particular set of psychological functions that can be neurologically identified (so-called “executive function”). While there is much I disagree with in the book, it stakes out a clear and positive position worth engaging with and learning from, and, as far as I know, it is the most comprehensive empirically-informed account of (legal) responsibility currently on offer.”

Matt King, Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Alabama at Birmingham

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