Stuart Kelter interviews Kevin Mitchell, a professor of genetics and neuroscience at Trinity College, Dublin. His research focuses on the genetic program for the wiring of the brain, as it affects psychiatric and neurological diseases, as well as perceptual conditions, such as synaesthesia. He is editor of The Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, published in 2015, is the author of Innate: How the Wiring of Our Brains Shapes Who We Are, published in 2018 and of Wiring the Brain, a science blog for general audiences. The subject of today’s interview focuses on his most recent book, Free Agents: How Evolution Gave Us Free Will, published in October of 2023. Mitchell discusses his robust and humanizing theory of the biological evolution of agency and identity, as well as the capacity for meaning and values. The upshot is a scientific explanation for what many scientists believe is only an illusion: free will.
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