I think that something major gets lost in the whole “determinism vs. free will” debate and that is that there really is a very clear difference between animals, which don’t have any, and people who obviously have something that animals lack and can certainly be called “free will”.
For example, trying to get my dog to decide if he wants to be outside or inside. After messing about with it for a while, acting like I’m going to close the door and then not…I realized/remembered that he’s just reacting to stimulus and simply has no opinion on the matter whatsoever.
It’s true that humans are also simply reacting to stimulus, but we actually have preferences regarding that stimulus. I might want to be outside, or I might want to be inside. Right now it is raining, I feel lazy…I want to be inside. The dog doesn’t have any preference. He may as well be out as in. It’s all on me, do I want him inside, where he knows how to behave and stay in his corner…or outside where he has to be watched. Inside it is!
I think it is hard for us to imagine what that is like, if anything. The best we might come up with I think is being “on the fence” about an issue….or maybe not really giving a fuck. But the difference is that the dog CAN’T give a fuck…he doesn’t have the ability to give a fuck. His brain simply doesn’t have a give a fuck center like ours does. The ability to give a fuck, and to act on that giving of a fuck, I think is reasonably worded as having “free will” though admittedly could be as easily worded as an ability to plan, forsee and prefer (is there a difference?).