Deliberation-by-Mario-Sánchez-NevadoCompatibilists are those who believe that freedom and determinism are compatible with each other. On their view, one is free so long as they make actual choices. And they maintain that people do make actual choices: They choose what they desire. Of course, the problem comes when you ask where those desires come from. The desires are determined by God or physics. So what if physics or God determined for you to desire to kill your roommate? Then you will “choose” to kill your roommate.

In my estimation, this is not a very robust sense of freedom. Indeed, I would argue that it is not freedom at all. If desires cause actions, but the desires are determined by something other than the self, then the actions are determined as well, even if only in a secondary or intermediate sense. More could be said in the way of critique, but I have done so elsewhere.

For this post, I just want to pose a simple question to compatibilists: If our choices are caused by our desires, are our desires are determined by God/physics, then why is “choosing” so hard?  Why do we struggle with deliberation?  The only reason we experience deliberation is because we possess conflicting desires and we need to weigh them to decide which desire to act on.  If our desires are determined, does that mean God (or physics) determined for us to have conflicting desires?  If so, what would the purpose be other than to give us the false appearance of having libertarian free will?

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