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