Free Will, Moral Responsibility, Divine Providence, and Human Relationships with God

According to the major Western theisms, God not only creates the world, but also providentially governs it. But there are longstanding disputes about how God does (or could) accomplish God’s plans for the world. Such debates have tended to focus on how creaturely freedom might put constraints on providence. Our idea, however, is to go beyond these debates, for most Western theisms have not only wanted to say that God creates free creatures, but also that God has a moral relationship with those creatures, in the (minimal) sense that God stands ready to hold us responsible for what we do. Recently there has been an explosion of interest in these sorts of ethical issues surrounding free will, issues having to do with hypocrisy, manipulation, and who has or lacks the moral standing to “hold responsible” certain wrongdoers. We seek to bring this new work to bear on debates about divine providence, and vice versa.

Research in a Nutshell

Project team: 
  • Project Leader: Dr Patrick Todd
  • Project Team: Prof John Martin Fischer (University of California, Riverside), Prof Derk Pereboom (Cornell University)
Project duration: 
4 years
Funded by the John Templeton Foundation and Eidyn (c. £160K)