Sam Harris wrote a book demonstrating how free will doesn't truly exist. I happen to agree with him. Especially the part that outlines something known as the Dilemma of Determinism. It is an inescapable fact that free will isn't real. What does this mean to you?
The most coherent statement on this topic, that I have come across, can be found in a publication titled “Getting To Yes” by Roger Fisher & William Ury.
”The question "Why?" has two quite different meanings. One looks backward for a cause and treats our behaviour as determined by prior events. The other looks forward for a purpose and treats our behaviour as subject to our free will. We need not enter into a philosophical debate between free will and determinism in order to decide how to act. Either we have free will or it is determined that we behave as if we do. In either case, we make choices. We can choose to look back or to look forward.”
I think of determinism as a wind blowing across the ocean of existence. Human consciousness is like a sail boat upon the ocean. We have no control over the wind, but we can choose which way to steer the rudder.
Even before I heard Harris' take on this issue I was in agreement with him. I hate when people say they have free will because they made a choice. They proceed to take a step or raise their hand. You only see the action and NOT the process behind the action. It's almost like thinking it's knowable that God exists or not. It doesn't really matter if people believe in free will or not though. We will still go about our day as if we do have free will. I think that at best that we have limited free will, but if you are limited by outside factors by any degree then how can we be sure that it's free will at all?
The way that I came to the conclusion that Free Will does not exist was from thinking a scenario where I made a significant decision. Then imagine if I could repeat history and keep everything exactly the same right up to the moment of my decision, could I have made a different choice? The obvious answer is, no. Since I am relatively logical I base my choices on my experience. If all experience were the same, then so would be my decision.