[Question] What is it like to be a compatibilist?

I’d like to better understand how compatibilists conceive of free will.[1] LW is a known hotbed of compatibilism, so here’s my question:

Suppose that determinism is true. When I face a binary choice,[2] there are two relevantly-different states of the world I could be in:[3]

State A: Past events HA have happened, current state of the world is A, I will choose CA, future FA will happen.

State B: Past events HB have happened, current state of the world is B, I will choose CB, future FB will happen.

When I make my choice (CA or CB), I’m choosing/​revealing which of those two states of the world are (my) reality. They’re package deals: CA follows from HA just as surely as it leads to FA, and the same holds for state B.

Which seems to give me just as much control[4] over the past as I have over the future. In whatever sense I ‘exercise free will’ to make CA real and bring about FA, I also make it the case that HA is the true history.

My question is: Does this bother you at all, and if not, why not?[5]

  1. ^

    Yes, I’ve done my own reading, though admittedly it’s been a while. I never found a satisfying (to me) answer to this question, and to the best of my recollection I rarely saw it clearly addressed in a form I recognised. If you want to link me to a pre-existing answer, please do, but please be specific: less ‘read Dennett’ and more ‘read this passage of this work’.

  2. ^

    Maybe no real choice is truly binary, but for the sake of simplicity let’s say this one is. I don’t think that changes anything important.

  3. ^

    For simplicity I’m taking the physical laws as a given. I don’t think that matters unless free will involves in some sense choosing which set of physical laws holds in reality.

  4. ^

    Not necessarily in every sense in which you might want to use the word ‘control’; you might define that word such that it only applies to causal influence forward in time. But yes in the sense that whatever I can do to make my world the one with FA in it, I can do to make my world the one with HA in it.

  5. ^

    If your answer involves the MWI or something like it, I would appreciate if you explained (the relevant bits of) how you conceive of personal identity and consciousness within that framework.