A formalization might be of use. Suppose there are six relevant circumstances: A, B, C, D, and E. Person P has feasible options F and G. The determinist view is that, if A, B, C, D, and E really are ALL the relevant circumstances, then they must determine that P will choose either F or G. The free will view is that P might, in all the circumstances, choose either F or G. Naturally, if he is asked to justify choosing F, and if A, B, and D favor F over G, he will say he chose F because of A, B, and D. But he might just as well have chosen G, in which case he would say it because of C and E. There is typically no way to quantify the "strength" of the reasons for each choice and say which is "stronger." To this a determinist would say that if, confronted with circumstances A, B, C, D, and E, Person X sometimes chooses F and sometimes G, or if Person X chooses F while a not-relevantly-different Person Y chooses G, then A, B, C, D, and E must not constitute a full set of relevant circumstances. There must be some circumstances J, M, and Q (say) which are also relevant. But what if we hold J, M, and Q constant as well and still observe that when the new list of relevant circumstances are the same, the same person on different occasions, or different but relevantly-identical persons, sometimes choose F and sometimes G? In that case the determinist must search farther afield for circumstances that differed that can be suggested, plausibly or not, as possible causes for the different choices observed. No matter how often he is disproven by showing that any given list of circumstances, the determinist need not despair, for there are always more circumstances he can appeal to if need be. His position is that *some* set of circumstances is sufficient to determine choice; we may never find it, but no matter. Determinism is a leap of faith. Not being one for leaps of faith, I dismiss determinism as an irritating distraction. Of course, one can also deny free will by accepting that the choice is not determined but attributing the variation to randomness. Never mind the difficulty of defining randomness. Common sense recognizes the distinction between chance and choice but this can be put to one side if we like. And if the proponent of free will answers by saying the choice wasn't random because he had reasons for his choice, one can jump back and (forgetting the previous argument) say that that's determinism again. Choice is neither random nor determined. People have reasons for action, which makes choice different from randomness; but a person might fail to act despite having good reason to do so, as often happens. Internal deliberation is not a deterministic process; it involves choice. To ask what is the mechanism of choice is a bit like asking the mechanism by which gravity operates. We observe choice; we observe gravity. Perhaps more fundamental explanations of these phenomena exist, perhaps not, but to insist on finding a mechanism behind everything just leads to an infinite regress. For most purposes they would not be necessary or relevant in any case. There is much that is difficult to understand here, no doubt, but you can only begin to understand it when you take our one, difficult, source of evidence, introspection, seriously. We choose; that's the first fact of our mental experience; reasons play a role, but will and not circumstances ultimately decides; and it is idle to indulge in hypotheticals about whether a long enough list of circumstances could eliminate the scope for choice, for experiment can offer no corrective to intuition. So there is free will; but what is its nature? That's when you can get off the treadmill of sophistries and start to explore the really interesting questions. For example, how is character related to choice? Our character does not make our choices for us. I trust my computer not to lie because it is a deterministic system. I trust my friend not to lie because of his character. But I know that he *could* lie. Our character may help determine the choice set, however. One cannot do what one cannot imagine, and imagination depends on character. Plots of seduction may never even occur to a pure man; shrewd schemes may never occur to a stupid one. Given one's choice set-- the set of imagined feasible responses to a situation-- character may determine the ease with which one chooses certain alternatives. A virtuous man may feel great resistance to lying, while a cowardly man may feel great resistance to standing and fighting at risk of pain and death. Gratitude and blame are responses to choice, and only make sense if there is free will. If you are a robot without free will it is senseless for me to be grateful to you for your services or to blame you for any harms you do me. Of course, one may fail to feel due gratitude to a benefactor or proper blame for cheating or cruelty. One reason this is done is that one may "take someone for granted," forgetting the free will of a parent or a servant and regarding them as indifferently as one would regard a machine. Though culpable, this may be a natural response to something being reliable: If Mommy always makes me pancakes for breakfast, it might begin to seem more like a natural law than an act of will. But consistency is not decisive evidence against the operation of free will. A person may become habituated and act "automatically"-- as drivers stay between the lines of the road without thinking about it-- but a person may also make the same choice, over and over again. And this has implications for theology. Suppose I say that the sun rises every morning not because of a natural law, but because God commands it to rise, again and again, never tiring of it, but always rejoicing in the majestic splendor of its light refreshing and quickening the world. That might give you a sense of insecurity: suppose God should, one day, change His mind. But He will not, "for His mercy endureth forever." Then it doesn't matter, you might say. But it does, I think. If choice, not deterministic causation, makes the sun rise, then gratitude is an appropriate response to every dawning day. And since gratitude, particularly gratitude for something as splendid as a sunrise, is a wonderful feeling, this hypothesis of God's freedom makes the world a pleasanter place.