A book that clearly and relentlessly challenges the generally accepted views held by determinists. Using reason and an extensive survey of the research literature, augmented by bursts of humor, Lawrence raises fundamental questions about the validity of determinism. He then proceeds to methodically demonstrate how the arguments for determinism fall short of proving determinism’s validity in the most fundamental of ways. This book is a must read if you have any interest in whether or not we are “biochemical robots”. If you do believe we are then you must confront and answer the issues that Lawrence raises. If you don’t believe we are biochemical robots, then this book will enable you to much more effectively present this view in your dealings with determinists. Most powerful is the fundamental flaw that Lawrence identifies, explores deeply and for which he provides a multitude of examples. I’ll leave hanging as to what that flaw is. It’s worth the read for just this point.
Author David Lawrence tackles Sam Harris’ determinism stance while at the same time praising Harris for making a philosophical concept table talk in his now ten-year-old book FREE WILL. The result – one of the most entertaining discussions of philosophical issues available today! Gearing up to enjoy this book, some definitions help. Determinism – the philosophical view that every event or state of affairs, including ever human decision and action is the inevitable and necessary antecedent states of affairs or, that acts of the will, occurrences in nature, or social or psychological phenomena are causally determined by preceding events or natural laws. Free Will – the freedom to do otherwise and the power of self-determination. Sam Harris stated in his book ‘Free will is an illusion so convincing that people simple refuse to believe that we don’t have it. The question of free will touches nearly everything we care about – morality, law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, feeling of guilt and personal accomplishment.’ David Lawrence addresses these thoughts scientifically and makes his writing so open and accessible that everyone can follow his arguments. He slips in many ‘one-liners’ that are memorable: ‘If our thoughts and actions are compelled by uncontrollable forces, our decisions don’t “matter” because we can’t make any.’ ‘Justice systems can’t be used on risk assessment because there’s no such thing as risk in a causal universe.’ ‘Morality and responsibility inherently conflict with determinism. No one can be responsible if they don’t have any control over their thoughts or actions.’ Lawrence’s book is a valuable resource – for advocates of both free will and of determinism - a book so interesting and illuminating that it becomes an excellent conversation resource! Recommended. Grady Harp, April 22
This contemporary take on a question that dates back many tens of centuries – do we have free will? or is our life pre-determined by external forces? – is a lively and invigorating examination of the fraught logic underpinning much determinist thought. The author, whose thorough yet breezy writing is a joy to read, leaves no stone unturned in his quest to demonstrate the absurdity of many notions held by opponents of the idea of free will. Morality, justice, quantum physics, laws of probability, and neuroscience are just a selection of the areas investigated in light of this perennial question of philosophy. There are a great many citations of scientific research on the subject, helpfully including many findings contrary to the tenets of determinism, which do not generally appear in books written by those who promote such views. Amid a fairly crowded field of books about this subject, Are We Really Biochemical Robots? stands out as one of the best, both in style and content.
I’m a big Sam Harris fan, but totally agree with this author’s critique of Free Will. Really interesting read for philosophy fans. Smart, funny at times, highly recommend it!
...This book is a logical take on intellect and psyche, leaving no stone unturned to unravel the most intriguing factors about determinism. With authentic citations, the author has done a great job exuding specific parameters. With louder facts and no fictional stories, this book is a must-read for a rush of thrill and much-needed zest.
...Throughout the text, David brings questions regarding free will to the surface. He leads everyone into the idea of to what extent we have free will. As one who leads a life of faith, free will is a choice given to us as a gift by our God. Because many have thoughts about free will, this text will open a mind to different perspectives on the matter. I hope this book will teach a person something new on the matter of free will.
...The author is very well researched or experienced in this topic, given it is the 10th year anniversary of the book, it is still relevant. It is informational and he makes great arguments for me most especially “We hold people responsible when they’re in control of their actions. If determinists are right that would never be the case, as our thoughts and actions are fully predetermined.” My Catholic grandmother would be rolling her eyes but I feel like she would just walk away. Again, this is a great book, I would recommend friends to read it.
...I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys a read that will make you stop and think. No answers are given, just perspectives on an argument which may never be settled.
The author’s reflections are well built. I felt Lawrence is really into the subject so he could construct interesting thoughts about it. This is a book for people who are interested in consequences that spring after political and social decisions. It deals with topics that affect all humankind, so it does not matter where the reader is from.
Are We Biochemical Robots shines a great light on Sam Harris’ works on the subject of Free Will. David Lawrence has gone a great lengths in trying to explain to a great length the ideas behind the works of Sam Harris. The way the author takes on the subject matter makes it quite difficult to stop reading this book once you begin. Perhaps the book appeals to my ideologies in ways no other book has done in the past or maybe it is how convincing the author is with his point but one thing is certain, there is something about this book that appeals to philosophers. The questions and points raised by the author feel like a missile attack on the subject of determinism. For so long I’ve pondered the true nature of human thoughts and actions but this book makes it clearer. Are we Biochemical robot is a fast read. Yet, the author tried as much as possible to provide detailed explanations of ideas ensuring that the reader assimilates his points. If like me you still ponder on the question, Are We Biochemical Robots? Then this book is for you.