To say that we always choose according to our strongest inclination at the moment is to say that we always choose what we want. At every point of choice we are free and self-determined. To be self-determined is not the same thing as determinism. Determinism means that we are forced or coerced to do things by eternal forces. Eternal forces can...severely limit our opinions, but they cannot destroy choice altogether. They cannot impose delight in things we hate. When that happens, when hatred turns to delight, it is a matter of persuasions, not coercion. I cannot be forced to do what I take delight in doing already. – R. C. Sproul in Chosen by God p. 59.
The way we make our choices has been a subject of inquiry for philosophers for a long time.
Sproul’s definition of free-will above seems to be the answer to many questions that have troubled me for some time.
We always choose according to our greatest inclination, our most powerful desire. Another way to say that is we always chose what we want to choose. This fits my experience. I can’t think of a single situation in my life when I chose something I didn’t want.
Sometimes my choices were limited. If all things were equal I would never have made the choice I did, but all things were not equal. I still chose the option that seemed best to me, according to my desires. The very definition of a mentally insane person is that he does not choose in this fashion; he chooses something he does not want because he is out of control.
This leaves me without excuse. Like many in our society, I would like to have someone to blame. Maybe my grandparents (it’s a genetic predisposition). Maybe my parents (it’s because they raised me that way). Maybe my friends (it’s because of the situation they put me in). Maybe the way our country is going (it’s because out society allows this to happen).
We are all responsible for our actions in each situation we find ourselves in. We have no excuse.