So, Arminians believe in libertarian free will. One question asked of this view is about what causes a choice. The question is perplexing, and there is no agreement among libertarian action theorists as to how to answer it.
A typical question is put this way: Mary chooses to go on vacation. She has two options she's weighing - Alaska or Hawaii. Mary chooses Alaska. That fits her budget better, the flights fit her busy schedule, the location is more alluring, her kids have always wanted to go there, fill in more blanks as you wish. Now, say Mary made this decision libertarianly free. That means, among other things, that nothing determined her choice. Nothing preceding the choice determined it. That means all the blanks above (some that were filled in with various desires and reasons) could have all been exactly the same as they were and Mary might have chosen Hawaii. Put differently, if we rewound the tape of Mary's life back to the point exactly before her choice and no further (thus keeping all the blanks the same) and then played the tape, Mary could just have well chose Hawaii (again, even given the same blanks we filled in). So, given this story, what is asked is, "What is it that explains why a libertarian free agent went one way over another?"
Now, in the literature this question has raised some interesting issues. For example, some have argued that libertarian free will doesn't afford us enough control to render a libertarian free agent morally responsible. Thus it would look like one of the main objections to compatibilism, viz., compatibalistically free agents cannot be held morally responsible for their actions, is actually shown to be a bigger problem for libertarianism. There are other issues raised. It's beyond the scope of this post to comment on them. I wish to raise another issue for Arminianism as it stems from some insights obtained from the above story about Mary.
Arminianism claims to believe in total depravity. I actually find it a superfluous concept since no human is actually totally depraved. They just would be if not for "prevenient grace" (another unbiblical doctrine fraught with its own problems). Actually, all humans are regenerate. They're only regenerate partially, though. Regenerate Lite. It's like this. Imagine a drink, let's call it Regenerade®. Now, people are naturally just an empty glass. But, no one is actually an empty glass. God flooded the world with Regenerade® such that all people are at least a glass half-full (or, "empty," if you like). Now, some people are filled to the brim with Regenerade®. They choose to "let go and let God" and so God "fills 'em up." But to get "filled up" you have to have at least some Regenerade® in your glass already. Since all people have an equal shot at filling up the glass, this means that all people have at least some Regenerade® in their glass. That's pretty much what they teach here.
Okay, now since total depravity is read counterfacuality, i.e, what all people would be if it weren't for God's flooding the earth with Regenerade®, we need to talk about scenarios that could happen. Total depravity is inherited from Adam, the federal head of the human race. So, let's bring back Mary. Mary is a counterfactual human living in a possible world W with no Regenerade®. When Mary makes a decision to * in W, she either has libertarian freedom or not. Since she would be morally responsible in W, then Arminians must say she had libertarian freedom - or, down goes almost all their object to Calvinism.
So Mary makes a choice to kill in W. She kills Harry. She hates Harry. She is jealous of Harry. She is annoyed by his voice. Fill in more blanks. Now, is she responsible? Arminians would have to say yes. So, rewind the tape. Given the same desires and reasons above, given every single event up until the choice was made to kill remains the same, Mary might just as easily choose not to kill. Is she responsible? This is vague.
She may not be civilly responsible since the state doesn't have the power or right to punish mere motives or desires, especially if kept private. But, she is still responsible to God for her motives. So, she must be free to not have sinful motives. Sinful desires. Even sinful inclinations. God will judge even the secret inclinations, thoughts, and desires of our heart. No one will have any such desire, thought, motive, or inclination in heaven.
So, either Mary is free to form sinful desires or not. But if she had no sinful thoughts, desires, motives, inclinations, etc., how could she plausibly be totally depraved? If she does not have the ability to get rid of the sinful heart from which sinful actions spring, she is still responsible for that heart. For that nature. But, she necessarily has said nature, and she didn't, in Kane's terminology, have a "crisis of the will" and self-form her will or character. She didn't will it but was willed it. She inherited it from Adam. Yet, in all of this, she is morally responsible. As top libertarian action theorist Robert Kane says, if an agent does indeterministically form her own will, then she cannot be a morally responsible agent. Totally depraved people do not form their own will. Their motives, desires, inclinations, etc., are evil and must be evil. And yet they are responsible.
And with that, most major objections from Arminians to Calvinism go down the drain.