This is just a very short and simple version of what I have argued as the proper way to understand choice. I believe there is no such thing as freewill. Choice, in my opinion is a causally determined mental calculation that we are all relatively free to make. Freedom and control are relative terms describing a relatioship between entities. Neither can be absolute, ever. Of course we have relative freedom to choose, it is just that that choice is not completely free from anything and not at all from the causal restraints of reality. What I mean by this can only be understood with proper knowledge of causality. Choice is essentially and necessarily dependent, not free.
Ayn Rand, the founder of Objectivism, while mistakenly a firm defender of freewill (she calls it a form of natural, as opposed to supernatural, causation), wrote this about causality: “The law of causality is the law of identity applied to action. All actions are caused by entities. The nature of an action is caused and determined by the nature of the entities that act; a thing cannot act in contradiction to its nature.” In other words, balls roll, if pushed; books slide. Balloons filled with helium go up, in our atmosphere; those filled with sand do not.
Things can only do what it is their nature to do. Also, a key part of causality is Isaac Newton’s first law of motion: An object will remain in uniform motion until acted upon by an outside force. So, nothing happens that does not have a cause. There is no “unmoved mover”, as Aristotle hypothesized simply to avoid being put to death like his predecessor Socrates. All of science and logic is based on the law of identity and cannot be used to discredit the universality of causality, not even the probability wave-function of quantum mechanics. Just because something appears random to us, doesn’t make it random! There are too many inconsistencies and contradictions in trying to attempt the extension of quantum principles to the macroscopic world and it does not change that fact that 2+2=4 (always, in this reference frame, barring any additional variables).
The identity of every entity is based on its structure and there are rules to what things can do. You cannot start your car with a book. You cannot kill bacteria with music. You cannot make a choice without the necessary information.
Choice isn’t free of your memories, mood, personality, oxygen, dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine levels and all other physically based aspects of your brain (even the temperature in the room). It is dependent on these things. Your brain is inextricably linked to the physical world. And your memories are stored physically in the neurons (the pre and post synaptic clefts, see Eric Kandel and the research he is doing with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute).
If you make a choice, to act, you do not access the first motor or pre-motor or motor association neuron in the chain by telekinesis. There is a physical causal chain of action from perception to behavior. There is nothing in the brain to suggest a supernatural aspect or an unmoved mover.
We have evolved here on this planet for millions of years to become really good at surviving. There is us and there is the world. Reality. No make-believe places or entities actually exists. All there is in the world is matter and energy. And we are aware of it through our perceptions. Our perceptions program our minds from birth. Our memories, thoughts, emotions and personality are causally dependant on our experiences. And each decision is causally dependant on the information available in the decider’s brain.
I am not suggesting that things are predetermined, only determined by the structure of reality and the laws that dictate its change, at the time of choice. Pre-determinism would entail a psychic ability to see the future, or a really good guess.
A long time ago people did not know about the solar system and its proper structure. All they saw was the sun “come up” in the east and “go down” in the west. No one can deny that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. But, I say, like freewill, the sunrise, is an illusion, in that, the sun is not actually rising at all, it just appears that way, because of the rotation of the planet we are on. If we did not take seriously the actual motions of celestial bodies, then near earth space travel would be impossible. And so, steps forward in philosophy and ethics will be impossible if people hang on to this superstitious, religious and irrational commitment to freewill. It is simply an illusion.