I would say that decisions like the one in that scenario aren't influenced by past events much at all. But lets pretend for a moment that some event in this person's past made them think one path was better than the other, they still have the choice of either path. There's nothing stopping them from taking the other path instead (even though they may think it's the worse choice).
Events can effect decisions, but they don't force you into those decisions. So Free Will remains even when the choices are stacked against you.
It isn't that the past is forcing
into a decision, but rather, your past has already shaped your "decision" ahead of time. Even those thoughts that you may be having ("this might not be the best idea, but-") only came about due to the events in your past that have shaped you into the person that you are now.
(you being a general term here)
Whether or not you're consciously aware of it, all of the instinctive urges, past experiences, and current circumstances are controlling your ultimate reaction to the situation at hand. Thus, even the illusion of decision making and Free Will were simply fabrications that your conscious mind developed after being taught by people in the past that you can make your own decisions.
One could go far enough to say that the Idea of Free Will is simply a moral excuse for punishing criminals who break the law since they "choose" to act as they did. Punishing, in this case, being a mere way to seek gratification for hurt feelings and such.
(I don't mean to sound angry or anything. I simply have a tendency to ramble a little when I talk about things that I'm interested in.)
JerichoDeath wrote:Someone decides to take the left path in a fork in the road to get to their destination. They know that either path will take them to their destination. So, why did they choose the left path instead of the right? Well, the answer lays somewhere (or everywhere) in their past. Events in that person's past played out in such a way to make them into a person who would choose to go in that direction. Had events played out differently, the result of the "decision" might have been different, but they didn't and it wasn't. Thus, the choice was already determined ahead of time, by the events that happened in the past, and the Free Will that the person experienced was only an illusion of their own mind.
As an Engineer, I certainly find the notion of reducing a person to the form of a very complex causal system to be rather amusing, and on some level such an approximation of behavior could be accurate; however, approximations are still approximations. The variance from the expected value of any such prediction model will result from the influence of Free Will (response level: meh).
Assuming, of course, that any such variance would be generated, and further assuming that the variance isn't generated from a lack of complete information with which to test. Still, you couldn't go back into the past to test the reaction again either.
Remember, this is philosophy. We ask a question not to find the answer, but to widen our own minds through intelligent discourse.