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Shelf Life May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

UCSD BOOKSTORE - NEW & NOTABLE

Here are a few new and notable faculty books at the UCSD Bookstore.

Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us About Morality By Patricia Churchland, Philosophy

"Neurophilosopher" is not a term that sits easily with either traditional philosophers or neuroscientists, so it's probably a good thing that Pat Churchland is neither. The former MacArthur "genius" fellow has been bridging the disciplines for some 40 years now and is perhaps best known for her work on the nature of consciousness. In her latest work, she explores the biological basis of ethics and advances a hypothesis that morality is rooted in attachment and bonding, regulated in the brain by various neurochemicals.
"As I see it," Churchland told the San Diego Union-Tribune, "moral values are rooted in family values displayed by all mammals—the caring for offspring. The evolved structure, processes and chemistry of the brain incline humans to strive not only for self-preservation but for the well-being of allied selves—first offspring, then mates, kin and so on, in wider and wider 'caring' circles."

Ethicists of many stripes get a polite drubbing in what the U.K. Guardian calls a "superbly written, dense-with-thinking book," and Churchland doesn't have a lot of patience for contemporary moral philosophers who ignore the brain. But she is not proposing that neuroscience can solve our practical, social problems. Matters such
as "when a war is a just war, . . . or whether there should be culling of wolf packs
in Yosemite," she told the U-T, "still require us to reason together."

BChechnya Jihad
By Marc A. Meyers, Materials Science/Engineering

A distinguished professor of materials science at UC San Diego, Marc André Meyers is a Brazilian-born explosives expert, now working in the emerging field of biomimetics, whose work has taken him all over the world. The travels and the know-how show up in his books and not just his three tomes on science and engineering. Meyers has also written two novels, the sci-fi Mayan Mars, which imagines the catastrophic release on Earth of an extraterrestrial virus, and now the thriller Chechnya Jihad, which involves the discovery of a super-explosive and takes its protagonist to the center of war in the Caucuses.

Dead Ringers: How Outsourcing Is Changing the Way Indians Understand Themselves
By Shehzad Nadeem, M.A. '03, Ph.D. '08

The Indian call-center worker is a) a joke, b) a thief of an American job, or c) a symbol of a beautifully small world? The answer is more complex than either a protectionist or an apologist for globalization might have it. In Dead Ringers, Shehzad Nadeem, now teaching sociology at City University of New York, chronicles the high-tech offshore workforce in India through interviews with employers, managers and the "upwardly mobile cyber coolies" themselves—who are asked to adopt Western-sounding names, strip their speech of identifiable accents and lie to haranguing customers that they're speaking from Modesto, Calif., instead of Delhi.

Global Warming Gridlock: Creating More Effective Strategies for Protecting the Planet
By David Victor, International Relations and Pacific Studies

Big United Nations climate-change talks have been going on for two decades, but they've accomplished little, and in David Victor's analysis they don't offer much hope. Instead, he argues in Global Warming Gridlock, progress can be achieved through "bottom-up" policies at the national level. He urges three key steps: creating "climate clubs" that target incremental change; making incentives for technological innovation; and adapting to the currently warming environment. "Victor has delivered one of the most thought-provoking analyses of policy responses to climate change for some time," writes a reviewer in The Economist. "If it is not optimistic, that is not his fault."

UCSD Bookstore

Visit the UCSD Bookstore online to purchase these titles and more. Look out for the monthly Alumni Special.

Man reading

ALSO NOTABLE

New Faces, New Voices: The Hispanic Electorate in America Coauthored by Marisa A. Abrajano, Political Science

Living with Complexity by Donald Norman, Cognitive Science (Emeritus)

Contested Reproduction: Genetic Technologies, Religion and Public Debate by John Evans, Sociology