What We Are Reading Today: Conscience by Patricia S. Churchland

Updated 26 August 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Conscience by Patricia S. Churchland

  • Churchland brings together an understanding of the influences of nature and nurture

In her brilliant work Touching a Nerve, Patricia S. Churchland, the distinguished founder of neurophilosophy, drew from scientific research on the brain to understand its philosophical and ethical implications for identity, consciousness, free will, and memory, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

In Conscience, she explores how moral systems arise from our physical selves in combination with environmental demands.

All social groups have ideals for behavior, even though ethics vary among different cultures and among individuals within each culture. In trying to understand why, Churchland brings together an understanding of the influences of nature and nurture. 

She shows how children grow up in society to learn, through repetition and rewards, the norms, values, and behavior that their parents embrace.

Conscience delves into scientific studies, particularly the fascinating work on twins, to deepen our understanding of whether people have a predisposition to embrace specific ethical stands.


What We Are Reading Today: Floating Coast  by Bathsheba Demuth

Updated 16 September 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Floating Coast  by Bathsheba Demuth

Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: Through the stories of these animals and resources, Bathsheba Demuth reveals how people have turned ecological wealth in a remote region into economic growth and state power for more than 150 years.

The first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters stretching from Russia to Canada, Floating Coast breaks away from familiar narratives to provide a fresh and fascinating perspective on an overlooked landscape, according to a review published on goodreads.com.

The unforgiving territory along the Bering Strait had long been home to humans — the Inupiat and Yupik in Alaska, and the Yupik and Chukchi in Russia — before Americans and Europeans arrived with revolutionary ideas for progress. 

Rapidly, these frigid lands and waters became the site of an ongoing experiment: How, under conditions of extreme scarcity, would the great modern ideologies of capitalism and communism control and manage the resources they craved?