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.
We ask for research time to pursue these topics (both together and independently). Patrick Todd is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. We ask for a partial buyout of Todd’s time in order to allow Patrick to work for a full year on these topics (in effect, he would use his fellowship time from Edinburgh during the other part of the year). The project would be supported by the “Eidyn” research center at Edinburgh. We ask for summer support/one course buyout for John Fischer, support for two summers for Derk Pereboom, and funds for an international conference in Edinburgh, and a travel budget. We aim to produce as outputs a monograph by Todd, two substantial papers each from Fischer and Pereboom, the conference, an anthology of new essays on these topics, and associated videos highlighting our work. As outcomes, our primary aim would be to publish these items in the top presses/journals within philosophy, which could, we believe, have enduring impacts on our understanding of the divine-human relationship and the nature of free will.
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