Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Short Communication

Dreaming is not an adaptation

Owen Flanagan a1
a1 Department of Philosophy, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708


The five papers in this issue all deal with the proper evolutionary function of sleep and dreams, these being different. To establish that some trait of character is an adaptation in the strict biological sense requires a story about the fitness enhancing function it served when it evolved and possibly a story of how the maintenance of this function is fitness enhancing now. My aim is to evaluate the proposals put forward in these papers. My conclusion is that although sleep is almost certainly an adaptation, dreaming is not.

[Hobson et al.; Nielsen; revonsuo; Solms; Vertes & Eastman]