No, you couldn’t have done otherwise

Wherever there are alternatives/ choices( as most like to call it) one could act in any one way. The presence of choice doesn’t tell you how I will act. I will try to demonstrate; you are on the fourth floor of a building and you want to go down in a hurry- there is a rope dangling on the window, there is a lift, there is a staircase. All the three are choices/ alternatives. Until you act, the awareness that you had so many choices tells us zilch about what you would do.

I believe everyone engaged in the freewill/ determinism debate isn’t talking about coercion which appears to me as Marvin’s pet fancy. All the examples he gives are about coercion; either being forced to drive bombers away, forced to say the pledge or whatever he fancies. I could be entirely wrong but I don’t think we could have spent hundreds of years discussing whether a person who was coerced could have acted differently. I think this naïve. And to insist on such a line of reasoning when one has access to better arguments is to me, simply lazy.

And I think he misleads his readers when he writes

When someone says, “I could have done otherwise”, they are not making any claims of super-human powers. All that they mean is that they had more than one option, and that they might have chosen the other option instead.

because, in my opinion, these people think if the conditions remained as they were, they would have acted differently which is an illusion. And this is the illusion of freewill. And there is really nothing super-human in it.

He is again wrong when he writes

When the “hard” determinist interprets this to be a metaphysical claim to freedom from causation and insists that there were never two real possibilities, but only one, he introduces mental confusion. After all, the waiter offered two splendid choices, steak and lobster, and at the time of the offer, both were possible.

There was only one real possibility; that which was actualized. The rest remain alternatives. The hard determinist confuses no one. It is Marvin’s make-believe world that is confusing to him and to others that follow him.

Rehabilitation only makes sense in a determinist world. It is here that training, environmental change- both physical and mental are believed to have an influence on how a person acts. In the world of Marvin where freewill runs amok, what is the use of rehabilitation when today one can do this and tomorrow a totally different thing. It is impossible in such a world to talk of a person’s character.

For the time being, this will be my last response to Marvin’s claims of compatibilism.