Another way of seeing that we are not morally responsible is to ask the question “Why do we choose what we choose?”.
The position I take regarding the free-will debate is that free-will is an impossible thing. It doesn’t matter whether or not determinism is true. If determinism is true than we do not have free-will and if it is not true than we still do not have free-will.
The kind of free-will I am talking about here is the kind of free-will that is required to fairly send someone to hell. The kind that justifies praise and blame. For it to be fair to send me to hell for ever then I must be responsible for my choices and actions. I and I alone must be responsible. This is just not the case.
Back to the question: “Why do I choose what I choose?”
There are two possible answers to this question.
There is no answer; it is a random process.
There is an answer; it is a determined process.
Now I’ve been told that this is a false dichotomy. I haven’t been told why it’s a false dichotomy but I assume they might be thinking that it’s because there could be a mixture of these two that generates free-will. As if magically by putting a duck egg and a piece of poo in a cauldron I could get the Taj Mahal.
I personally think that a kind of determinism is happening in our decision making. If you look at the deliberative process – all you have to do is look inside when you deliberate and see what you are doing – you will see that you are recognizing multiple courses of action. You evaluate each course of action; which is to say you anticipate in your imagination what will result from each course of action and see which result you like the best. And then you act accordingly.
Do you choose to prefer the result you prefer? If so when? But if you don’t then you are not the only cause for your decision. You are the sole immediate cause but you yourself – or rather the decision making apparatus of your mind – was determined by something that wasn’t you. That thing could be nothing – you’re the result of chaos – or something – like a god, something spiritual or physical processes. In either case you are not responsible! (BTW I believe Moksha is realizing this)
Of course not everyone is so rational. Most people just react instinctively without thinking through their options. A kind of knee-jerk reaction. But choices made in that way are rarely if ever seen as being more free than choices made as a result of deliberation.