Consciousness might be a byproduct of reasoning. The ability to reason is clearly an adaptation and it has played a direct role in our evolution.
I pick up this thought. Our capabilities to reason are definitely an evolutionary advantage. Animals, and especially humans, can see themselves in their environment, and can anticipate the future. If my cat knocks at the door, he knows I will eventually come and open it. If I am hungry, I know I can go to the fridge and get me some food. But I could also do other things. E.g. I know there is only some remnant of yesterday’s rice dish, which was not that good. So I could go to the shop, buy me some potatoes and salad, and make me a new meal. Or I can call Pizza Service and order a pizza.
At the moment I am hungry I have several options, i.e. there are more than one possible action that will aliviate my unpleasant feeling of hunger. It would be ridiculous to say that these options are not there, and that I, or if you wish, my brain, does not evaluate these options. If these options were not really there, how can reasoning then be an evolutionary advantage?
Now my brain is, for all practical purposes, a determined system: so what I will do is also determined. But that does not mean that these options were not there, and that my brain is not evaluating options! To say that my choice is fixed and therefore I have in fact no choice, is a category error. The evaluating of options is a determined process, but it is a fact that this is what my brain does. The options are the options as they appear to me, not in some ‘real indeterminacy’, in which the brain would not be determined.
Now it is true, as Lois says again and again, I have no idea of my determining factors. But that does not change the fact that I evaluate possible future actions! But because I have no access to these determining factors (I am not aware about what my neurons are doing), the impression arises that I am the uncaused cause of my actions. That is the illusion of Libertarian Free Will.
‘Could have done otherwise’ just refers to the options that I remember I had. If I had chosen to do something else, I had done something else. There is no difference with ‘if it had rained yesterday, then the streets would have been wet’. They are just expressions of causal relationships, and therefore perfectly compatible with determinism.
Now, in my hungry situation, I plan to go to the shop, but then comes my evil neighbour, and stands for the door, saying he will not allow me to go to the shop. Now I cannot realise my plan to go to the shop. Somebody intentionally cuts my options down. Now he is forcing me to take another option. And here it becomes clear what Compatibilist Free Will is: if I can act upon all available options, then I am free. If they are artificially reduced or changed by the will of somebody else then I am not free.
That’s it. That is all that free will is, but also no less. I claim this concept of free will can bear the burden of moral responsibility. It also has nothing to do with determinism or indeterminism, till a certain limit. It is not conceivable how anticipating the future and choosing my actions can work in a world where there is not at least a certain level of constancy: everytime when I do A, then B happens. Without such ‘reliability’ my reasoning would make no sense, as everything could come out differently as last time when I did A. So I can end this by saying that determinism is a necessary condition for free will, where indeterminism is at most just disturbing, or in most cases, even irrelevant.