This concept is always bugging me because it seems that we are constantly constrained by the decisions we "make". Somebody even suggested that my logic basically implies destiny, well I don't believe in destiny, because of the effects of quantum mechanics. Still, I came to realize that we are not far from the concept of predeterminism.
Now I am an atheist and that means that I don't believe in concepts like "souls"; also, I consider human beings and living organisms in general to be nothing more than extremely complex systems but which are undoubtedly ruled by both the cause and effect principle and in some cases random outcomes. In other words I don't see the fundamental difference between a human and something as a bunch of rocks reacting to the changes in environment, and also at the same time, influencing some changes on their own (except of course for the level of complexity). This I admit might be a weak link in my argument.
Now let's look at a simple event A that occurs in the present and then determines a event in the future (event B).
If we know what the effects for event A are we can predict event be occurring in the future. Now let's say event A is something you hear; event B is something you do. Now since B is caused by A, we can not say B was done out of free will.
One might argue that we can not predict with certainty anything. True, but when are we not at the mercy of a quantum outcome? Consider the example of choosing between two colors: red or blue (no... of course it has nothing to do with the title, no...). Your neurons start firing and, for the sake of simplicity let's say that there is one (let's call it P) that is connected to two other neurons: R and B (or "B and R" if you like, depends on your taste). If P fires a signal to R then you choose red, to B, you choose blue. The neuron that P will fire a signal to is influenced by quantum mechanics (random). But notice how your decision isn't actually made by "you" but by the outcome of that random event.
Ok, as with a lot of what I write: first I the idea pops into my head, I think about it, I write about it, then I decide to google it and see many more who had the same idea way before me. Still, it feels good knowing that I came to the same conclusions without knowing about those people.
In regards to this post, the subject I found out is called Incompatibilism it's also linked to Hard determinism as well. a
Still, I'm not done talking about this free will thing, as will see in a future post (sorry, had to make this reference to determinism)