Compatibilism is the doctrine that our decisions are caused and yet that we are free. It messes around with the word free.  The end result is nothing like real free will.  Usually when religionists and philosophers meet something they don't like - or something that will cost them their careers if they tell the truth about it - they come up with loads of arguments and fuzz to hide the truth.  This confuses the layperson and intimidates them.  It is simple - compatibilism is not free will.  It is an attempt to redefine "not being forced by anything outside me" as free will.


It helps if we are clear on what caused or determined mean.  An alarm clock is determined to go off at 8 am.  If it has free will it can avoid doing so and might do.  Determined and caused imply fixed or set.  Compatibilism is odd if it is saying you can choose what way you are going to be determined or forced.  That is what it is saying!  If you are evil if you freely murder then you are off the scale worse if you can freely choose to be programmed to commit it.  You end up being a victim of yourself for as soon as you set things in motion there is nothing you can do to change it.  Compatibilism fails to evade saying that in some way free will is magic and you can use it to avoid being influenced or programmed.


Some experts such as Daniel Dennett argue that freedom of choice and deterministic programming of what you think and do and "choose" are not compatible.  And confusingly they add that neither are they incompatible.  They assume it's a very complicated matter.  Don't be fooled  - what direction you go is either fixed/caused/programmed or not.


We want free will to be about us being fully responsible for our actions so that we can be morally judged to have done good or bad. 


Some seem to say that if we are programmed we can break that programming.  But they cannot show that.  As somebody wrote, this so-called free will "implies the power to break a causal chain of events, the processes known as determinism in which physical laws cause each new event to follow directly from earlier conditions."  So we are not a creature of present and earlier conditions and that is why if you murder and are sane you will be fully blamed.  You cannot say that your choice was unduly controlled by the past.  This is really a free will of the gaps.  You are controlled and then you create a choice out of nothing to break that control.  But thinking you are choosing could be part of the control.  It is wholly unconvincing.


So they say that you force yourself and programme yourself so though you are programmed, you are still accountable.  If you have programmed yourself, that is if your current choice is forced on you by programming you previously did to yourself that is not free will.  Programming by definition is anti-freedom so it matters not who does the programming.  This view also suggests that God can programme us to choose only good.


That is not compatibilism either for you use free will to fight the present and the past and what they make you.  That is war not compatibility.


So what does compatibilism mean by free will?  It actually redefines the feeling of being free as free will but holds that we are actually programmed or determined or fixed or controlled by forces that are not of us.  Compatibilism cannot claim that free will as in you creating a choice out of nothing [indeterminism] and determinism [your past and your programming make you what you are and cause you to do what you do] are both true in the same way at the same time.  That is like saying a totally planned event is also totally random. If a compatibilist does this he is not a compatibilist but just using the label. In fact he is just trying to believe two diametrically opposed ideas at the one time.


Compatibilism argues that if you feel psychologically pressured to do things that is not free will.  But if you try to feel programmed or that your desires and wants force you you can feel it.  What then?  We all love to pretend we are pressured by others when we have been caught doing something bad.  We easily feel then that we were pressured.


Alvin Plantinga regards compatibilism as nonsense.  He states "One might as well claim that being in jail doesn't really limit one's freedom on the grounds that if one were not in jail, he'd be free to come and go as he pleased".


Some believers in compatibilism argue that when you exercise your will a lot of inclinations are at work so that you can use it and some of those are coercive.  In this view you can have free will and still be compelled to do only good by say a God. That is not compatiblism at all.  All agree that there are forces in us that can make our choices less chosen than we think.  That is saying that if you have free will it is limited by other forces.


Free will is the belief you are responsible for your choices while determinism is the view that you only think you make choices but you are actually determined or programmed. It is plain the two contradict each other but compatibilism tries to hide that.

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