Since, however, the evidence of ordinary consciousness almost always goes to prove that the individual, especially in relation to future acts, regards himself as being free within certain limitations to make his own choice of alternatives, many determinists go so far as to admit that there may be in any action which is neither reflex nor determined by external causes solely an element of freedom.
But the contribution made by psychology to the solution of the problem has taken the form not so much of a direct reinforcement of the arguments of either of the opponent systems, as of a searching criticism of the false assumptions concerning conative processes and the phenomena of choice common alike to determinists and libertarians.
But, nevertheless, the new light thrown upon the unity of the self and the more careful and accurate scrutiny made by recent psychologists of the phenomena of decision have rendered it no longer possible either for determinists to deny the fact of choice (whatever be their theory as to its nature) or for libertarians to regard the self or the will as isolated from and unaffected by other mental constituents and antecedents, and hence, by an appeal to wholly fictitious entities, to prove the truth of freedom.
What is opposed to obligation, or at least always distinguished from it, is that very domain of necessity within which determinists would bring the will.
We must now consider the arguments by which determinists attack the position of their opponents and the evidence which they adduce to show that the freedom of the will is no necessary postulate for moral action.
Modern determinists differ from the earlier advocates of their theory in their endeavour to exhibit at least the compatibility of morality with the absence of freedom, if not the enhancement of moral values which, according to some of its advocates, follows upon the acceptance of the deterministic account of conduct.
If a coherent theory capable of giving an explanation of the ordinary facts of morality and not involving too violent a breach with the meaning of moral terms in their accepted usage were all that need be required of determinists in order to m reconcile the defenders of the moral consciousness to the loss of their belief in the will's freedom, it would follow without question that the determinists have proved their case.
Nevertheless there is no tendency on the part of modern determinists to evade the difficulty.
Moreover, in a certain sense the very feelings of remorse and penitence which are the chief weapons in the libertarians' armoury testify to the truth of the determinists' contention.
So long as libertarians contend that what alone possesses moral value is unmotived choice, acts of will of which no explanation can be given save the arbitrary fiat of individual selves at the moment of decision, it is not difficult for determinists to exhibit the absurdities to which their arguments lead.
.For to give a reason for choosing (where "reason" is not merely equivalent to the determinists' "cause" or "necessary antecedent") would simply be to find the explanation of the individual's choice in some previous decision.