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Title: The compatibility between a theologically relevant libertarian notion of freewill and contemporary neuroscience research : God, freewill and neuroscience
Author: Runyan, Jason D.
ISNI:       0000 0001 1806 4174
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2009
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The notion that we are voluntary agents who exercise power to choose and, in doing so, determine some of what happens in the world has been an important notion in certain theological accounts concerning our relationship with God (e.g. 'the freewill defence' for God's goodness and omnipotence in light of moral evil and accounts of human moral responsibility in relation to God). However, it has been claimed that the physicalism supported by contemporary neuroscience research calls into question human voluntary agency and, with it, human power to choose. Emergentist (or non-reductive physicalist) accounts of psychological phenomena have been presented as a way of reconciling the physicalism supported by contemporary neuroscience and the theologically important notion of human power to choose. But there are several issues that remain for the plausibility of the required kind of emergentist account; namely - Does recent neuroscience research show that voluntary agency is an illusion? and Is there evidence for neurophysiological causes which, along with neurophysiological conditions, determine all we do? In this dissertation I set out to address these issues and, in doing so, present an account of voluntary agency as power to choose in the state of being aware of alternatives. I argue that this account allows for the notion that human beings determine some of what happens in a way that is consistent with what contemporary neuroscience shows. Thus, contemporary neuroscience does not undermine this notion of human voluntary agency; or, then, the predominant theological view that we are morally responsible in our relationship with God.
Supervisor: van den Toren, Bernard ; Hyman, John Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Neuroscience ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Neuropsychology ; Psychology ; Philosophy ; Epistemology,causation,humankind ; Philosophy of mind ; Science and religion ; Modern theology ; free will ; voluntary ; choice ; free will defence ; theology ; responsibility ; philosophy of action ; emergence