Source: What's It All About?. (2007 1 ed.) p. 119 Bottom - 120 Middle.
The debate over whether we have free will or not is one of the longest and most intractable in philosophical history. Needless to say, I can't begin to resolve it here. But what I can do is point out that we must not jump straight from the metaphysical claim that all events are necessitated by prior causes to the conclusion that ordinary human free will is an illusion. Many philosophers, notably David Hume, have argued for a position known as compatibilism. Compatibilists argue that even if the metaphysical doctrine of necessity is true, we still have free will, because it is simply the ability to make our own choices without external coercion or interference. So, for example, if you offer me tea or coffee, my choice is free just as long as I haven't been hypnotized or forced at gunpoint to take one or the other. It doesn't matter if at some deep level my choice is inevitable. Free will is the unhindered operation of my decision-making processes, not the view that these processes themselves are somehow exempt from normal causal laws. As A. J. Ayer wrote, 'It is not causality that freedom is to be contrasted with, but constraint.'
Not everyone agrees that the metaphysical thesis of causal determinism can be so easily separated from our ordinary idea of free will. They therefore reject the compatibilist way out. But I think it fair to say that all philosophers agree that it is not obvious how accepting determinism as true can or should affect our everyday conception of free will. It may not leave it exactly as it was, but it may not utterly destroy it either.
I can't sympathize with the bolded proposition. 1. Isn't the universal quantifier all too overinclusive and overconfident? Or is this somehow truly obvious?
- How's this true though? One's everyday conception of free will can affect one's attitude to others. E.g., a hard determinist may mistrust capitalism (e.g. who believes improving her career impossible) more than a Compatibilist (e.g. who may still try to improve her career).