Re: Ch. 7 - Antisocial Thoughts and the Right to Privacy
Another fairly solid chapter. I think Gazzaniga is getting into territory he feels more comfortable with, in part because he's emminantly qualified to talk about the results of looking for answers in the brain itself, which is very much what this chapter is about. There is one question that occured to me while reading this chapter, though: that of whether or not we should seek the truth at any cost. Gazzaniga has suggested that the best reason for not looking for the truth in the privacy of the brain is that we're so liable to misinterpreting it, of perverting the truth, and thereby incriminating a person just by looking at them, so to speak. And as I understand it, that's the reason for the constitutional and legal safeguards that protect defendents from incriminating themselves -- the system is dangerously fallible, and so we have to set limits on our search for the truth.
But let's assume for the moment that Gazzaniga is wrong about our capacity to find the truth through neuroscience -- I think that he's very likely right, but bear with me. If it were possible to perform a brain scan and find out with absolute certainty whether or not a particular suspect was guilty, would we still have good reason to abhor the act? What do we value more: truth, social order, or privacy?
As a tangent, page 114-115 describes a method of "reading minds" by comparing facial movements to a battery of information about the effects of emotion. Some of the science fiction fans on BookTalk may have gotten the same sense of deja vu that I felt, because this is almost exactly the procedure described by Philip K. Dick in "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" and depicted in the movie "Blade Runner", adapted from the book. In those, it's called the Voight-Kamt test, and it's used to distinguish genuine humans from the artificial humanoids called replicants. So I wonder how the tests described by Gazzaniga might play into his consideration of degrees of "humanness," which is at root in his determination of moral status. Any thoughts?