Browsing by Subject "Free will"

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  • Visala, Aku (2021)
    Some philosophers and scientists have argued that we humans cannot be held morally responsible for anything. Invoking results of the neurosciences and the cognitive sciences, they argue that humans lack the kind of conscious control and awareness required for moral responsibility. For theological ethics and Christian theology as a whole, moral responsibility is indispensable. I will begin by outlining some empirical results that are invoked in support of moral responsibility skepticism. I will, then, examine the subsequent discussion and the question why conscious awareness is central to moral responsibility. Consciousness contributes to morally relevant control over action in multiple ways. I will briefly examine some accounts of conscious control that are resistant to the skeptical challenge. Although the empirical results might lead us to revise the degree and range of conscious control, there seems to be enough of it to ground many everyday practices of responsibility. I will conclude the article with some theological reflections.
  • Visala, Aku; Vainio, Olli-Pekka (2020)
    In this article, we will use contemporary analytic tools to make sense of the main arguments in the classic debate on free will between Erasmus of Rotterdam and the Reformer Martin Luther. Instead of offering another exegesis of these texts, we put forward an analysis that links this historical debate with contemporary discussions on free will and grace in philosophical theology. We argue that the debate was ultimately about how three theological core claims are related to one another: the Anti-Pelagian Constraint (humans are incapable of willing any good, in order to come to faith), the Responsibility Principle (humans are morally responsible in the eyes of God) and human free will. Erasmus attacks Luther by arguing that the Responsibility Principle cannot be maintained without free will, while Luther responds by arguing that Erasmus must reject free will, because it is in conflict with the Anti-Pelagian Constraint. Luther is then left with the dilemma of justifying the Responsibility Principle without free will – a task, which in our estimation, fails. In the concluding section of the article, we point out some continuities and discontinuities between the contemporary debate and that of Luther and Erasmus.
  • Pylkkänen, Paavo (2019)
    This paper briefly discusses some of David Bohm’s views on mind and matter and suggests that they allow for a stronger possibility for conscious free will to influence quantum dynamics than Henry Stapp’s approach.
  • Visala, Aku (2021)
    This article argues that recent results of the cognitive sciences could make significant contributions to theological debates about free will, but they have been largely ignored by contemporary systematic and philosophical theologians. Recent work in cognitive psychology and moral psychology has to do with our intuitive and automatic patterns of reasoning in the domains of freedom and responsibility. This research will be relevant for many theological domains and has the potential to raise new issues and problems. The essay examines three such domains. First, the debate between intellectualist and voluntarist accounts of the will have been central in theology. Recent findings suggest that intellectualist accounts of the will have more intuitions on their side than has been previously assumed. Second, theologians have debated whether belief in free will is central for moral and political life. This question was pertinent during the Reformation when many of the reformers either rejected free will or presented truncated accounts of it. Recent results from moral psychology suggest that belief in free will has significant pro‐social and altruistic effects. Finally, the possible compatibility of divine determinism and free will is crucial for theological debates about sin, grace and God’s providence. Recent psychological results point in the direction of affirming that while most humans have strong intuitions about the incompatibility of free will and divine determinism, these might be based on a false inference. Finally, some new counterintuitive challenges about the manipulativeness of God are raised against the divine determinist position.
  • Pylkkänen, Paavo (Fri tanke, 2021)
  • Luna-Fabritius, Adriana (2016)
    This article reveals key elements of the Neapolitan intellectual map of the Counter-Reformation one of the most complex and fascinating of the Italian history at the dawn of the Enlightenment. The main objective is to resettle the place of both Jansenism and Scholastics to the Neapolitan intellectual history of the first half of the eighteenth Century. This article places the Letters addressed to the Father General of the Society of Jesus written by the patrician Genoese and political philosopher Paolo Mattia Doria in the context of the Inquisition's trial against the atheists-atomists (1688-1697), whose echoes were heard all the way to the first decades of the eighteenth Century.
  • Visala, Aku (2020)
    Given how central free will and moral responsibility are for theology, Christian theologians should not remain at the sidelines when scientists and philosophers debate recent empirical results about human agency. In this article, the core notion of free will is identified with the agent's cognitive ability to exert control over his or her actions thereby making moral responsibility possible. Then three scientifically inspired arguments for free will skepticism are outlined: the argument from eliminativism, the argument from determinism and the argument from epiphenomenalism. The remainder of the article explores novel responses to these arguments and draws some theological implications from them.
  • Visala, Aku Olavi (Center for Theology, Science, and Human Flourishing, 2018)