Hal Finney wrote:

The question of free will has generated an enormous
amount of philosophical literature.  I'd suggest reading
at least the first part of this page on "Compatibilism",
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/.  Compatibilism is the
doctrine that free will is compatible with determinism.  Probably the
most well known advocacy of compatibilism is Daniel Dennett'e 1984 book
Elbow Room.  From the page above:

> Compatibilism offers a solution to the free will problem. This
> philosophical problem concerns a disputed incompatibility between free
> will and determinism. Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is
> compatible with determinism. Because free will is taken to be a necessary
> condition of moral responsibility, compatibilism is sometimes expressed
> in terms of a compatibility between moral responsibility and determinism.
This is all getting far more complex than it needs to be. I think the problem lies in unexamined assumptions about what the term "free will" means, setting up the compatibilist/ incompatibilist debate when there is no call for such a debate in the first place.

Here is my definition: a decision I make is "free" when I feel that I could have decided otherwise. That's it! It covers every eventuality; if I don't have this "free" feeling, then it isn't free will. Now, where in this is there a theory about randomness and determinism? In fact, the feeling I get when I am exercising free will is neither that I am being controlled by deterministic laws of nature nor that I am doing something random; it is a unique feeling which, like an itch or a pain, has no correlate in the "objective" world and can only be understood by actually experiencing it. I realise that as a matter of fact, I *must* be subject to either deterministic laws, randomness, or some combination of the two - there are no other possibilities - but this knowledge no more negates the legitimacy of my subjective experience of freedom than the knowledge that pain is just lectrical impulses in a nerve negates my experience of toothache.

--Stathis Papaioannou

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