Well, these are old thoughts – I wrote this out at length on 6/22/13 – but I keep coming back to them. Some people say we lack free will, because everything we do is a determinate function of who we are and the circumstances we find ourselves in, and, further, who we are is a function of our history, including the chance formulation of our genetic makeup.
First, I question the word “determinate”. At the very least, I challenge the speaker to show me how to make the term operational. (Cf. Laplace’s demon 11/22/09)
But even granting, for argument, that our choices are determined, in some sense, by these things, all you are really saying is that I have a mechanism by which I make choices, and I will make the choice that the mechanism produces. How could it be otherwise? What would it mean to make a choice other than by some mechanism? Some physical/chemical apparatus, presumably, but even if I believed in a divine spark, doesn’t the spark have some sort of nature? Some process?
If choosing, based on the dictates of my own nature, how best to respond to the circumstances I find myself in is being “unfree”, exactly who or what is it that is not free? Am I seeking the freedom to choose something other than I want to choose? Well, I could – if I wanted to. (Oops…)
I conclude that the choices are accepting what we have as free will, or accepting that the question of free will is an undefinable pseudo-question. But this is a matter of semantics, not metaphysics. The conclusion “we lack free will” is not one of the alternatives.