Is free will just a myth?

(Credit: Getty Images)

A scholar argues that biology doesn’t shape our actions; it completely controls them.

Most of us probably believe we have free will. We feel like we make decisions, and that each of us is responsible for the consequences of our actions. But what if that’s all just an illusion?

Robert Sapolsky is a renowned professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University, but he’s also the author of best-selling scientific books such as Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst (Penguin Random House, 2018).

He’s always been focused on the biological mechanisms that shape our actions, but in his latest book, Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will (Penguin Random House, 2023) he’s going a step further: He says the science shows that our biology doesn’t just shape our actions, but completely controls them.

In this episode of the University of Chicago’s Big Brains podcast, he argues that letting go of the illusion of free will could radically reshape our world:

Read this episode’s transcript. Subscribe to Big Brains on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Source: University of Chicago