My question arises in free will and compatibilism. Basically, according to the compatibilists, the actions driven by 'internal factors' can be considered as free. Is this truly the kind of free will that people want to establish in the first place? Isn't this more of a compromise, rather than solution? I would have thought that the free will we are trying to seek is the capability to do otherwise, but I think internally driven actions are still determined, i.e. the agent could not have done otherwise. Moreover, is it right to seek free will as in 'the capability to do otherwise'? Is this truly meaningful? I feel like the whole deterministic and incompatible theory is somewhat dodgy in its logic: what does it mean that we cannot have done otherwise?

I would have thought that the free will we are trying to seek is the capability to do otherwise...

The capability to do otherwise, full stop, or the capability to do otherwise had we wanted to do otherwise? Today I saw my neighbor and gave him a friendly greeting because I wanted to. Even if determinism is true, had I wanted not to give him a friendly greeting -- imagine that he had rudely blasted his stereo and woken me at 3:00am -- there's no reason to think I would have given him a friendly greeting anyway.

That is, determinism is compatible with the claim that my desire to give my neighbor a friendly greeting played an essential role in my actually giving him a friendly greeting. Indeed, I want my action to be under the effective control of my desire: I don't want indeterminism to pop up in between the two. For suppose that, despite my wanting to give him a friendly greeting, something indeterministic popped up and resulted in my screaming obscenities at him instead. I would hardly be the model of a free and responsible agent; instead, I would be no more in control than someone suffering from Tourette Syndrome.

So determinism is compatible with our choosing as we desire to choose, which is the kind of freedom of choice that it makes sense for us to value. It makes no sense, I believe, to demand that we also be able to choose our desires. For one thing, if every choice is based at least partly on a desire, then given that we can't have made infinitely many prior choices, we must have at least some unchosen desires.

I don't see compatibilist freedom as any sort of compromise, because I don't see anything attractive in the alternative idea that, at the instant I make my choice, my desires and other facts about me don't determine which choice I'll make but, instead, leave room for something indeterministic to pop up and surprise me (and my neighbor).

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