EP 203 Robert Sapolsky on Life Without Free Will

Jim talks with Robert Sapolsky about the ideas in his book Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will. They discuss what motivates his writing about the topic, turtles all the way down, closing off the escape valves, the general critique of determinism, 4 positions on free will, naturalism vs determinism, intent, free will vs agency, Phineas Gage’s famous brain injury, disruption of cognitive abilities, the limitations of metacognition, Benjamin Libet’s volition experiments, why consciousness research doesn’t have to do with free will, free won’t, the theory of grit, an update to the marshmallow test, cusp decisions, deterministic chaos, the De Broglie-Bohm theory, New Age quantum bullshit, emergent complexity, downward causality, how attention determines who we become, the noble lie, why rejecting free will doesn’t make people less ethical, and much more.

Robert M. Sapolsky is the author of several works of nonfiction, including A Primate’s Memoir, The Trouble with Testosterone, and Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers. His most recent book, Behave, was a New York Times bestseller and named a best book of the year by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. He is a professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University and the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant.” He and his wife live in San Francisco.