How Evolution Explains the Emergence of Freewill in Humans

The emergence of freewill in the human species is a result of evolution, not a brute fact.

How Evolution Explains the Emergence of Freewill in Humans

What's the Latest Development?

Much of today's debate over freewill hinges on a couple semantic distinctions concerning the nature of causality, according to eminent social psychologist Roy F. Baumeister. This is unfortunate because while philosophers may be much confounded by freewill, it forms an essential part of our scientific worldview. "Free will is just another kind of cause. The causal process by which a person decides whether to marry is simply different from the processes that cause balls to roll downhill, ice to melt in the hot sun, a magnet to attract nails, or a stock price to rise and fall."

What's the Big Idea?

The emergence of freewill in the human species is a result of evolution, not a brute fact. Highlighting a common misconception about freewill, which states that it is the ability to do whatever you'd like, demonstrates that the emergence of human culture requires us to exercise our freewill by obeying cultural norms. "The simple brain acts whenever something triggers a response: A hungry creature sees food and eats it. The most recently evolved parts of the human brain have an extensive mechanism for overriding those impulses... Self-control furnishes the possibility of acting from rational principles rather than acting on impulse."

Photo credit:

Read it at Slate

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle may finally be solved

Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.

Surprising Science

One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.

Keep reading Show less

America of the 1930s saw thousands of people become Nazi

Nazi supporters held huge rallies and summer camps for kids throughout the United States in the 1930s.

League of the Friends of the New Germany rally at Madison Square Garden. 1934.

Credit: Bettman / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the 1930s, thousands of Americans sympathized with the Nazis, holding huge rallies.
  • The rallies were organized by the American German Bund, which wanted to spread Nazi ideology.
  • Nazi supporters also organized summer camps for kids to teach them their values.
Keep reading Show less

Coffee and green tea may lower death risk for some adults

Tea and coffee have known health benefits, but now we know they can work together.

Credit: NIKOLAY OSMACHKO from Pexels
Surprising Science
  • A new study finds drinking large amounts of coffee and tea lowers the risk of death in some adults by nearly two thirds.
  • This is the first study to suggest the known benefits of these drinks are additive.
  • The findings are great, but only directly apply to certain people.
Keep reading Show less
Surprising Science

Why San Francisco felt like the set of a sci-fi flick

But most city dwellers weren't seeing the science — they were seeing something out of Blade Runner.

Scroll down to load more…