Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will




2023.11.3 : View this Review Online | View Recent NDPR Reviews

Robert M. Sapolsky, Determined: A Science of Life Without Free Will,  Penguin Press, 2023, 528pp., $35.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780525560975.


Reviewed by John Martin Fischer, University of California, Riverside

This is a big, splashy book, both in number of pages and ambitions. It is much ballyhooed, receiving reviews and attention throughout the Anglophone world. Sapolsky wishes to disabuse us of what he takes to be our false beliefs that we are free and morally responsible, and even active agents, three central and foundational aspects of human life and our navigation of it. Much of the book contains summaries (necessarily somewhat brief) of various scientific and mathematical fields (and sub-areas) relevant to his topics: neuroscience (the appendix is a “primer on neuroscience”), chaos theory, quantum mechanics, emergence, and some results from psychology and sociology.

It is a compendious book. The summaries will be helpful in bringing readers up to speed, or at least beginning that…

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