Divine Command Theories - Bibliography - PhilPapers
afrocolombianidad.info: Divine Command Ethics: Jewish and Christian Perspectives ( Philosophical Ideas in Debate) (): Michael J. Harris: Books. Jul 23, Divine Command Ethics: Jewish and Christian Perspectives / Edition 1. by Michael J. Date: 07/23/; Publisher: Taylor & Francis. In Defence of the Epistemological Objection to Divine Command afrocolombianidad.info Danaher Christian Miller - - Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences details. In my original .. A Jewish Modified Divine Command Theory. . The Second-Person Perspective in Aquinas's Ethics: Virtues and Gifts.
Another problem is that, on this view, the doctrine of the goodness of God is reduced to nonsense. InLeibniz observed in his Discourse on Metaphysics: So in saying that things are not good by any rule of goodness, but sheerly by the will of God, it seems to me that one destroys, without realizing it, all the love of God and all his glory.
For why praise him for what he has done if he would be equally praiseworthy in doing exactly the contrary? There is a way to avoid theses troublesome consequences. We need not say that right conduct is right because God commands it.
Instead, we may say that God commands us to do certain things because they are right. God, who is infinitely wise, realizes that truthfulness is better than deceitfulness, and so he commands us to be truthful; he sees that killing is wrong, and so he commands us not to kill; and so on for all the moral rules. If we take this option, we avoid the troublesome consequences that spoiled the first alternative.
And the doctrine of the goodness of God is preserved: To say that his commands are good means that he commands only what, in his perfect wisdom, he sees to be best. Unfortunately, however, this second option leads to a different problem, which is equally troublesome.
All this may be summarized in the following argument: Suppose God commands us to do what is right. Then either a the right actions are right because he commands them or b he commands them because they are right. We will have, in effect, given up the theological conception of right and wrong. Many religious people believe that they must accept a theological conception of right and wrong because it would be impious no to do so. They feel, somehow, that if they believe in God, they should say that right and wrong are to be defined in terms of his will.
But this argument suggests otherwise: It suggests that, on the contrary, the Divine Command Theory itself leads to impious results, so that a devout person should not accept it. And in fact, some of the greatest theologians, such as St. Thomas Aquinasrejected the theory for just this reason. Thinkers such as Aquinas connect morality with religion in a different way. That honor goes to the Theory of Natural Law. This theory has three main parts.
The Theory of Natural Law rests upon a certain view of what the world is like. On this view, the world is a rational order with values and purposes built into its very nature. This conception derives from the Greeks, whose way of understanding the world dominated Western thinking for over 1, years.
A central feature of this conception was the idea that everything in nature has a purpose. Aristotle incorporated this idea into his system of thought around B. What is it made of? How did it come to exist? And what is it for? The answers might be: This is a knife, it is made of metal, it was made by a craftsman, and it is used for cutting.
Aristotle assumed that the last question - what is it for? But what about natural objects that we do not make? Aristotle believed that they have purposes too. One of his examples was that we have teeth so that we can chew. Such biological examples are quite persuasive; each part of our bodies does seem, intuitively, to have a special purpose - eyes are for seeing, the heart is for pumping blood, and so on.
According to him, everything has a purpose. He thought, to take a different sort of example, that rain falls so that plants can grow.
As odd as it may seem to a modern reader, Aristotle was perfectly serious about this. The world, therefore, is an orderly, rational system, with each thing having its own proper place and serving its own special purpose.
There is a neat hierarchy: The rain exists for the sake of the plants, the plants exist for the sake of the animals, and the animals exist - of course - for the sake of people, whose well- being is the point of the whole arrangement.
If then we are right in believing that nature makes nothing without some end in view, nothing to no purpose, it must be that nature has made all things specifically for the sake of man.
This seems stunningly anthropocentric. Aristotle may be forgiven, however, when we consider that virtually every important thinker in out history has entertained some such thought. Humans are a remarkably vain species.
The Christian thinkers who came later found this view of the world to be perfectly congenial. Only one thing was missing: God was needed to make the picture complete.
Aristotle has denied that God was a necessary part of the picture. For him, the worldview we have outlined was not religious; it was simply a description of how things are.
Thus the Christian thinkers said that the rain falls to help the plants because that is what the Creator intended, and the animals are for human use because that is what God made them for. Values and purposes were, therefore, conceived to be a fundamental part of the nature of things, because the world was believed to have been created according to a divine plan.
“Does Morality Depend on Religion
Things are as they ought to be when they are serving their natural purposes. When they do not, or cannot, serve those purposes, things have gone wrong. Eyes that cannot see are defective, and drought is a natural evil; the badness of both is explained by reference to natural law.
But there are also implications for human conduct. Moral rules are not viewed as deriving from the laws of nature. Consider, for example, the duty of beneficence.
DIVINE COMMAND THEORIES OF ETHICS
According to the Theory of Natural Law, beneficence is natural for us, considering the kind of creatures we are.
We are by our nature social creatures who want and need the company of other people. It is also part of our natural makeup that we care about others. Someone who does not care at all for others - who really does not care, through and through - is seen as deranged, in the terms of modern psychology, a sociopath.
A malicious personality is defective, just as eyes are defective if they cannot see. The endorsement of beneficence is relatively uncontroversial. Natural law theory has also been used, however, to support moral views that are more contentious. If everything has a purpose, what is the purpose of sex?
The obvious answer is procreation. This way of thinking about sex dates back to at least to St. Augustine in the fourth century, and it is explicit in the writings of St.
The moral theology of the Catholic Church is based on natural law theory. This line of thought lies behind its whole sexual ethic. It is generally rejected for two reasons. We can say that people are naturally disposed to be beneficent, but it does not follow that they should be beneficent. Similarly, it may be that sex does produce babies, but it does not follow that sex ought or ought not to be engaged in only for that purpose.
Facts are one thing; values are another. The Theory of Natural Law seems to conflate them. Second, the Theory of Natural Law has gone out of fashion although that does not, of course, prove it is false because the view of the world on which it rests is out of keeping with modern science. Their explanations of natural phenomena make no reference to values or purposes.
What happens just happens, fortuitously, in the consequence of the laws of cause and effect. If the rain benefits the plants, it is only because the plants have evolved by the laws of natural selection in a rainy climate. Whatever values may be, they are not part of the natural order.
To the extent that one accepts the worldview of modern science, then, one will be skeptical of the Theory of Natural Law. It is no accident that the theory was a product, not of modern thought, but of the Middle Ages.
The third part of the theory addresses the question of moral knowledge. How are we to go about determining what is right and what is wrong? The Theory of Natural Law gives a different answer.
Therefore, the Theory of Natural Law endorses the familiar idea that the right thing to do is whatever course of conduct has the best reasons on its side.
The believer and the nonbeliever are in the same position. God has given both the same powers of reasoning; and so believer and nonbeliever alike may listen to reason and follow its directives.
In an important sense, this leaves morality independent of religion. Religion and Particular Moral Issues Some religious people will find the preceding discussion unsatisfying. It will seem too abstract to have any bearing on their actual moral lives. For them, the connection between morality and religion is an immediate, practical matter that centers on particular moral issues.
The teachings of the Scriptures and the church are regarded as authoritative, determining the moral positions one must take. To mention only one example, many Christians think that they have no choice but to oppose abortion because it is condemned both by the church and they assume by the Scriptures. Are there, in fact, distinctively religious positions on major moral issues, which believer are bound to accept? If so, are those positions different from the views that other people might reach simply by trying to reason out the best thing to do?
The rhetoric of the pulpit suggests that the answer to both questions is yes. But there are several reasons to think otherwise. In the first place, it is often difficult to find specific moral guidance in the Scriptures. Jesus says, "You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" Matthew Similar commands are endorsed or stated by Jesus in the other three Gospels. If Jesus is God the son, as traditional Christians believe, such commands derive from and express the will of God.
Thus, the ethics of agapeistic love advocated in the New Testament can plausibly be interpreted as having its source in a divine command. During the final third of the twentieth century a revival of interest in divine command ethics took place among philosophers of religion. Most of the philosophers who wrote on the subject in this period understood divine command theories to be accounts of the realm of moral deontology. This domain of ethics studies topics related to duty; its main concepts are requirement obligationpermission rightnessand prohibition wrongness.
Wierenga proposes a causal divine command theory according to which by commanding actions God brings it about that they are obligatory and by forbidding actions God brings it about that they are wrong. Robert Merrihew Adams advocates a theory in which an action's being obligatory consists in its being commanded by God and an action's being wrong consists in its being contrary to a divine command. Stated in general terms, the principle of obligation of a divine command theory of the type favored by these philosophers asserts that actions are obligatory if and only if, and just because, they are commanded by God.
And the principle of wrongness of such a theory claims that actions are wrong if and only if, and just because, they are prohibited by God.
Adams argues that divine commands do not account for ethical goodness and related axiological characteristics. In his theistic Platonism God plays the role of the Form of the Good; God is the paradigm or standard of goodness. Other things are good in virtue of bearing a relation of resemblance to God. For Adamsethical goodness thus depends on God, but not on God's will or commands. Philosophers who contribute to the revival of divine command ethics devote a good deal of time and energy to defending divine command theories against criticism.
Perhaps the most famous objection has roots that trace back to a question Socrates raises in the Euthyphro. Altering it a bit to allow for the difference between Greek polytheism and monotheism, one may imagine a Socratic gadfly asking: Does God command truth-telling because it is obligatory, or is truth-telling obligatory because God commands it?
No matter which way questions of this sort are answered, a difficulty for divine command ethics emerges. If one supposes that God commands truth-telling because it is obligatory, one contradicts the claim of divine command theorists that truth-telling is obligatory because it is commanded by God. In other words, this response forces one to conclude that the obligatoriness of truth-telling is independent of God's commands.
As he notes, divine command theorists are committed to the view that lying rather than truth-telling would be obligatory if it were commanded by God. Understood in this way, goodness is determined by God's immutable nature and character; it is a matter of who and what God is. God's essential nature, which is paradigmatic of goodness, will then constrain what God can command. Hence, it is open to divine command theorists to hold that it is impossible for God to command lying and so is impossible for lying to be obligatory.
This view is consistent with granting that lying would be obligatory if, per impossible, God were to command it. Certain forms of divine command ethics can be shown to stand up well under philosophical scrutiny.
Divine command accounts of obligation and wrongness deserve to be regarded as respectable options in ethical theory if the larger theistic worldviews of which they are components are themselves philosophically defensible. See also Moral Principles: Their Justification ; Religion and Morality.
Divine Command Theories of Ethics | afrocolombianidad.info
Bibliography Adams, Robert Merrihew. Finite and Infinite Goods: A Framework for Ethics. Oxford University Press, Argues for a divine command theory within an ethical framework of theistic Platonism.