We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
This essay is an attempt to persuade you of something that in practice you cannot really doubt: your belief that you have free will. It will try to reassure you that it is not naïve to feel that you are responsible, and indeed morally responsible, for your actions. And it will provide you with arguments that will help you answer those increasing numbers of people who say that our free will is an illusion, or that belief in it is an adaptive delusion implanted by evolution.
I got as far as Much of the apparent power of deterministic arguments comes from their focusing on isolated actions, or even components of actions, that have been excised from their context in the world of the self, so that they are more easily caught in the net of material causation and promptly went out to the kitchen and made myself a turkey sandwich.
That's about all the meat I want to chew on tonight. :>)
We are all aware of moments when our choices are less free - under the influence of pain, or alcohol, or any number of physical, emotional, or intellectual desires.
It's hard to get around the idea that there are thus times when we are more free. To retreat to the explanation that those more free times are merely a subtler illusion, when we are subject to other, less visible encroachments on our free will is to in fact cede the argument. If we can move from one master to another, we have at least that choice.
And, in a physical and social world where every choice must have some connection to an independent reality, being able to choose masters is not distinct in any real way from freedom. Without bodies, material, and others, freedom and choice have no meaning. "Free will" is a straw man - an attempt to define some good out of real existence and then chide us for not achieving it.
I am free to start another paragraph, or not, on the basis of contemplating my history, my audience, time constraints, and the self-editing function that determines whether I have anything worthwhile to say. To argue that use of any of these masters constitutes some sort of unfreedom is simply silly.
Assistant Village Idiot