17 October 2023
About this episode
Would you feel uneasy or relieved to know that free will doesn’t exist? For those who have been fortunate in life, it may feel an attack to suggest they are not captains of their own ships - that their success was down to biological and environmental chance. But for others it may feel a lot more liberating.
Robert Sapolsky is an author, eminent neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, known by many for his work studying baboons and human biology. But his latest book is much more associated with the field of philosophy. Determined: Life Without Free Will explores the notions of choice, responsibility and morality, arguing that free will does not exist and why acknowledging this should cause us to rethink the fundamentals of human society.
In this episode of CultureLab, Timothy Revell asks Sapolsky why humans are so-hardwired to believe that free will does exist, how our understanding of free will has shifted over the years and whether we could avoid societal collapse if everyone began believing their actions are not their own.
To read about subjects like this and much more, visit newscientist.com.