Is it? It’s not my point. By introducing this, you are front-loading a strong dependency on acceptance of the truth of not-self. I happen to share this acceptance, but it is a long hard road to get to that place.
Let me retrace my steps. I was not trying to make an argument about free will and determinism. I was trying to understand what the nature of causality is in light of DO, Nagarjuna, and Hume. It then struck me that the Humean argument is, it seems, cogent and surprisingly in agreement with that of the Buddha. A consequence of that, if it is true, is that there is no such thing as a “cause”: what we call a cause is merely a way of talking about the patterns we observe in nature.
Then I considered, what kinds of consequences might this have? And it occurred to me that if there is no such thing as cause, then the question of free will vs determinism is defunct, because all “laws of nature” are descriptive: nothing is determined and hence, nothing is free. There are only patterns that can be observed.
The concept of free will is revealed to be metaphysical bunkum, ultimately derived from godspeak. It is only in the context of a personal yet absolute god that the very idea of “free will” makes sense. God, indeed, can freely say “Let there be light!” He alone possesses the potential for free will, and only in his context does the idea make sense. However, God, sadly enough, lacks certain other qualities, notably that of existence.
Let me be clear, I don’t mean “free will” is bunkum, I mean the “concept of free will” is bunkum. I am not talking about the actual presence or absence of free will in the world, I am talking about using the word “free will” as if it had meaning.
To give an example from your discussion: if my thesis is correct, then I believe it follows that these two statements are identical in meaning:
The question is whether that intention is governed by fliggldibums, by wddyrhish, or by a mix of the two.
The only difference is that a term like “free will” has an emotional appeal, in the same way as a phrase like “the will of God”. Thus the debate is not about the facts; it’s about whether we position ourselves as emotional beings (free will!) or rational ones (determinism!). It is meaningful from a psychological point of view, but not a philosophical one.
This was, to me, a most amenable conclusion. Long ago I studied this subject at UWA under Michael Tooley, and I have always suspected that it was one of those issues where the problem was malformed. But I have never really known clearly how to formulate it. I think this is why I find the Humean thesis so compelling.
Now, if you reject my original thesis—and I don’t really expect anyone to accept it, to be honest—then of course you will reject this whole scenario. And you’re free to find other ways of discussing free will. But this way of addressing the problem of free will is, to me, powerful and satisfying, and follows quite relentlessly on from the basic thesis.