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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines free will as a distinctive element of the human essence, arguing that it evolved to enable the development of culture and that culture requires “responsible autonomy”—personal choices for actions that balance the achievement of individual objectives and control with respect for the rules of society. Understanding the human essence as produced by evolution to facilitate culture provides a useful context for understanding free will. The chapter shows that the evolution of free will partly depended on finding a way for the brain to use some of the body’s energy in order to permit advanced and complex psychological processes, including self-control and rational choice. It also considers the incorporation of meaning into the causation of behavior and how meaning is expressed in language. Finally, it explores some uses of self-control in morality and how self-control capacity relates to ego-depletion effects as well as the conservation of willpower.

Keywords: culture, ego-depletion, evolution, free will, language, morality, rational choice, responsible autonomy, self-control, willpower

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