In line with its professed 2010 funding priority of “Finding Free Will,” the John Templeton Foundation has just awarded $4.4 million for a new project, to be led by Alfred Mele at Florida State University, for “empirical and philosophical explorations” into “Free Will: Human and Divine.” Says the FSU press release:

Alfred Mele

“This is an extraordinarily large award in the humanities, which speaks volumes about Al Mele’s worldwide reputation as a scholar, the excitement provoked by his newest ideas, and the Templeton Foundation’s commitment to the highest standards of creativity in ideas and rigor in scholarship,” said Joseph Travis, dean of Florida State University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “An award of this magnitude and visibility puts our Department of Philosophy, and Florida State, in a very bright international spotlight.”

Mele has lofty hopes for the project:

“What I want to do is make significant progress on discovering whether we do or don’t have free will,” Mele said. “It’s not as if in four years, we are going to know. But I want to push us along the way so that we can speed up our understanding of all of this.”

Thomas Nadelhoffer over at the blog Experimental Philosophy is close to ecstatic:

Needless to say, I expect a number of readers of this blog to submit proposals for free will-related projects.  So, good luck to everyone with the free-for-all (pun intended)!

Read more of the press release (includes video and audio) at FSU’s website.