# Determinism and the ability to do otherwise

I am having trouble with the idea that determinism means that a person cannot do otherwise, and that she is not capable of doing B when it is determined that she choose A. Even though I find it true that it is impossible that the event of agent X choosing B will happen, I have trouble seeing how the person in question is somehow incapable of choosing B. Here is an illustration of what I mean:

1. Determinism: Events will happen only one way based on current conditions. Other events that include X choosing B, cannot happen.

2. Cannot do otherwise: Being incapable of doing otherwise (obviously). The person does not have the ability to choose B for example. It means that not only will the event of X choosing B cannot happen, but that X lacks the ability/power/capability to choose B. I hope you understand the distinction between the two terms before we continue.

Now I cannot see how the second follows from the first. Sure, it can be possible that a person being incapable of doing other than A would ensure that events follow, but that is not necessary. You can have the first without the second. For example, a person can be capable of choosing whether to A or B, but will not do B of her own volition, which may be determined by the past, meaning that events follow in an ordered manner. We stop ourselves from choosing B as we would rather do A. A judge has the ability to sentence a person to prison, even though she is determined so that she will not do so, for example. Its true that events can happen one way, but that does not seem to require (or imply) that a person cannot do otherwise, but rather that they act of their own will in which is determined. A person need not be constrained in the sense of my second term (cannot do otherwise), in order to have the first (determinism).

A person instead will not do so, but in all cases has the ability to act it out.There is a difference between being capable of doing B and willfully doing B. I have the ability to do A and to B, but I would rather not do B. If the person can but wouldn’ do B, then it will follow that the determined event will occur. X is determined to like chocolate, and that means X will always choose chocolate when choosing an ice cream flavor (of her own will), but I can still see x as being capable of choosing strawberry, its just that X will not. Events will still act out in an orderly fashion, just with the inclusion of the agent’s choice in making it happen. Right now, I don’t see a problem with this.

Even though we are determined to do A, our choice in doing A is still that: our choice. We do not have a choice over what determines us to choose, but we do have control over what we choose, as we are the ones that make them of our own voluntary will, even if it is determined! Being determined to act out A is simply translated as “She would do A” and “She wouldn’t do B”, but one can still say that “She could do B”. I can still see X being capable of doing B even though she will not do so.

During the moment of choosing, X is free to act in any manner, but being who she is, she will willingly not act out what she is capable of doing, and willingly chooses a specific option. This is what we mean by the phrase: I can, but I won’t. This seems to be compatible with the deterministic universe, where events can only happen one way.

The issue kind of depends on how a person defines “cannot do otherwise” though. If some define it as the impossibility for the event of X choosing B happening, and not that X himself is unable to do B, then I can understand. I, however, believe that having the ability to do otherwise is enough, even though we will not act them out.

Any disagreements, agreements, or feedback will be appreciated.

things can happen in all different ways, not just one - however, once they’ve happened, they will of course have happened in a particular way that seems rationally inevitable based on what preceded it - it’s a faith based argument, but it works for scientific purposes

free will is the more sentimentalist position, built on the experience of uncertainty - it’s an accurate description of a feeling but not necessarily an accurate chronology of the way things occur.

in other words:

choice > deliberation > decision > outcome

becomes

outcome > outcome > outcome > outcome

different names for the same shit