Oh, and, of course, every choice we make of our own free will is also causally inevitable. However, there is no other object or force in the universe that is making that choice. It is authentically "that which is us" that is doing the choosing.
And that is the formula for compatibilism.
When we confront a new problem or issue, we start thinking about how to resolve it. Different options come to mind. Some may be rejected because we recognize them immediately as "impossibilities". Others may simply be impractical, and we say they are not "real" possibilities. But each option that we could implement, if chosen, remains a real possibility.
Still in the context of our imagination, we estimate how each of these real options will play out, if we choose it. And the one that best suits our purpose and our reasoning is the one that we will inevitably choose.
When someone says "I could have done otherwise", it is an abbreviated version of "I could have done otherwise, if I had made a different choice, but I didn't". And that is pretty much always a true statement. "Able to do otherwise" means simply that "I had more than one option".
And, while it is always true that "I could have done otherwise", it is also true that "I would not have done otherwise, given the same thoughts and feelings about the issue".
Note that we always go from multiple possibilities to a single inevitable actuality. The "hard" determinist attempts to suggest that we never had more than one possibility, which is a false statement, given that we did actually have multiple options prior to making our inevitable choice.
2) The brain is a collection of specialty areas working together as a whole to support a single living organism. It is not just our conscious awareness, but also our autonomic functions, sensory processing, reality modeling, etc.
3) I do not call my definition of determinism "soft". I call it "correct".
But nothing is ever "uncaused". So there is no such thing as "freedom from causation". It is an oxymoron, a self-contradiction. Without reliable causation, we could never reliably cause anything to happen! Every actual freedom we have, to do anything at all, requires a universe of reliable cause and effect, that is, a deterministic universe.
And that applies especially to free will. Without reliable causation we could never carry out any intent, and our will would be impotent and irrelevant. So, "free" never can (and therefore never does) imply freedom from causation.
What the "free" in "free will" refers to is freedom from external coercion, such as a gun to the head or other threat of violence, and freedom from other forms of undue influence, such as hypnosis, mental illness, authoritative command (parent/child, doctor/patient, etc.).
Coercion is a meaningful constraint upon our ability to choose for ourselves.
But causal inevitability is not a meaningful constraint. And that is because the final "prior cause" of our choice is the mental process of choosing that just occurred in our own brains. That event did not occur anywhere else in the universe.
It turns out that what we inevitably do is exactly identical to us just being us, doing what we do, and choosing what we choose. And that is NOT a meaningful constraint. It is nothing anyone can or needs to be "free of".
So, when we correctly define "free will" a the ability to decide for ourselves what we "will" do, when "free" of coercion or other undue influence, then we have a free will that is (a) not supernatural in any way, (b) makes no assertion of freedom from causation, and so is consistent with causal determinism, (c) is correctly understood and applied by everyone in nearly all practical scenarios, and (d) is sufficient for both moral and legal responsibility.
In most dictionaries, you'll see two definitions listed for "free will". The first one is the one I just described. The second definition is the "philosophical" definition, the one that implies "freedom from causal necessity/inevitability". The second definition is irrational, and I'm pretty sure no one ever implies that definition in any practical application.
Free will is when you decide for yourself what you will do, free of someone else's coercion or other undue influence (brain tumor, hypnosis, an authority's order, etc.).
There is no "freedom from causation" in free will. Our choices are always caused. They are caused most often by our own purpose and our own reasons.
No one feels constrained by causal necessity (until someone like a "hard" determinist comes along and talks them into it). Causal necessity is the status quo. Everything that ever happens is always causally inevitable. It's actually a trivial fact with no practical implications.
All of our freedoms exist within the context of causal necessity. Without reliable cause and effect we could never reliably cause any effect.
And if you require "free" to imply "free from reliable cause and effect", then you may as well take the word "free" out of the dictionary, because there would be no freedoms at all.
Defining "free" to mean "free from causation" is irrational. It never can, never has, and never will mean that (except to those making a mental error).
We use the word "free" every day, and it always refers to some meaningful constraint. "Free shipping" from Amazon means you're not constrained by the shipping costs when purchasing. Does this mean you just "feel" like you're free of paying for shipping? No. It is an "empirical fact" that you are not charged for shipping.
The same is true for "free will". Either you are free to make the choice for yourself or you are not. Either something external is in control of the choice or "that which is you" is in control of the choice. This is a question of empirical fact. It is not about anyone's feelings. If someone has a gun to your head, or you're a kid and your parent is making the choices for you, then you don't have the freedom to choose for yourself.
Now, "that which is you" will change as you continue to interact with your environment, and learn new things. But this is not something that only happens TO you, but rather "that which is you" is half of what matters in every interaction ("that which is not you" is the other half).
Oops. This is running a little long. But let me clarify one more thing. Choosing is an empirical event. It happens in the real world. More specifically, it happens inside our head. It is a fully deterministic process by which multiple options are reduced to a single choice, according to our brain's calculation as to the best means of accomplishing its current purpose.
There is totally reliable causation prior to the choosing, there is totally reliable causation during the choosing, and there will be totally reliable causation as we act upon our choice.
However, we call this process "choosing what we will do". And it is actually us that is doing it. And it actually happens in the real world. There is no illusion here. Either we are free to control that choice by our own mental processes, or we are externally coerced or unduly influenced by someone or something else that controls the choice. This is the empirical reality of what is actually happening in the physical universe.
The evidence suggests she performed a mental process that we call "choosing". Choosing is said to have happened when several options are input (the menu) and a single choice is output (her order).
If she had merely "experienced" choosing, without "actually" choosing, then the waiter would still be waiting for her to place an order.
Note that what I am describing is logically coherent. What is incoherent is the notion that she had no choice when clearly she did.
And if we examine the other objects in the room, we can find no object other than her that we can call the cause of the choice.
The incoherent suggestion is that "causal necessity" entered the restaurant, sat beside her, and forced that choice upon her against her will. Is that what you claim?
You see, causal necessity is neither an object nor a force. It is not an actor in the real world. Like determinism and inevitability, causality is a concept that refers to the behavior of the objects and forces that make up the physical universe. We are one of those objects, and we exercise physical force. But causality is neither an object nor a force.
"Causality" is not doing anything. We are.
HOWEVER, she was never free from causal necessity/inevitability. Nor did she ever have any need to be free of it. If you wish to continue to hold to the delusion that causality is a force of nature, then you must at least see that causality was also present in her mental process of choosing. It was not an external force, but was carried out by the naturally occurring mental processes that we call "her".
Causal necessity not an inevitability that is "beyond our control", but rather, it incorporates our control and our choosing in the overall scheme of causation. And if you attempt to bypass or exclude human causal agency, your determinism is incomplete, and therefore false. And that is the error of so-called "hard" determinism.