Divine Command Theory

Alice Tonks
Mind Map by Alice Tonks, updated more than 1 year ago
Alice Tonks
Created by Alice Tonks over 6 years ago
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Mind Map on Divine Command Theory, created by Alice Tonks on 04/29/2015.

Resource summary

Divine Command Theory
  1. Normativity: Concerns what is morally good and bad
    1. Permissible
      1. Obligatory
        1. Forbidden
          1. Evaluative: Concerns what we ought to do and not to do
          2. An action P is: (i) Morally obligatory iff God commands that we P (ii) Morally forbidden iff God commands that we do not P (iii) Morally permissible iff God does not command that we do not P; and when P is not morally obligatory, forbidden or permissible then that is because God commands as God does
            1. ... It has struck many as a sensible account of the normative aspects of morality
              1. It will be important, in order to respond to an important objection, that this Divine Command Theory is about normative categories of obligation and permission, NOT the evaluative categories of goodness and badness
            2. The Euthyphro Dilemma
              1. B) What is morally required or permitted is morally required or permitted because God commands as God does
                1. This horn raises the question: What if God were to command us to commit some atrocity?
                  1. Since we have rejected the first horn (A) of the dilemma, we seemingly have to allow that God could do this ( and if you take the scriptural evidence, God has done this)
                    1. And if God were to do this, then the commanded atrocity would, according to Divine Command Theory, be morally required!
                  2. A) God commands as God does because of what is morally required or permitted
                    1. This horn of the dilemma simply denies what the Divine Command Theory asserts
                      1. It says that what God commands depends upon what is morally required or permitted but the Divine Command Theory says that things are precisely the other way around
                    2. Because of the distinction between normative and evaluative, we can say that something morally very bad has been commanded and is therefore morally required
                      1. If it turns out that something very bad could be morally required, then Divine Command Theory has an extremely counterintuitive consequence
                      2. Responses to the Euthyphro Dilemma
                        1. 1) Abandon Divine Command Theory: This does not mean leaving God out of morality
                          1. 2) Bite the bullet: Accept that there could be (perhaps even are) moral obligations to do morally bad things
                            1. 3) Explain that somehow it is not possible, after all, for God to command what is morally very bad
                              1. PURSUING (3)
                                1. Suppose that God is infinitely morally good: God necessarily commands us to do what is morally good, and necessarily commands us to refrain from doing what is morally very bad
                                  1. Therefore, God necessarily would not command us to do what is morally very bad
                                    1. Suppose also that God is perfectly morally consistent: God necessarily would not command us to refrain from doing what God has commanded us to do
                                    2. WORRIES (3)
                                      1. 1) Divine Command Theory has to maintain that morality depends upon God's commands, and not the other way around. How can God's commands necessarily bound to what is already morally good and bad?
                                        1. RESPONSE: The Divine Command Theory we are considering maintains only the normative aspects of morality that depend upon God's commands. So there is no reason for our Divine Command Theorist to be embarrassed about appealing to what is already morally good and bad in explaining the constraints on God's commands
                                        2. 2) Is it plausible that God is morally perfect and/or consistent in the way (3) requires? What about, for example, the way God is supposed to have treated Job? Or God's commanding Abraham to sacrifice his son?
                                          1. RESPONSE: This is a theological; our philosophical task was to show that Divine Command Theory is not necessarily committed to saying that it is possible for morally very bad things to be morally obligatory because God commands that we do them
                                  2. Natural Law Theory
                                    1. An action P is : (i) Morally obligatory iff reason recommends that we P (ii) Morally forbidden iff reason recommends that we do not P (iii) Morally permissible iff reason does not recommend that we do not P; and when P-ing is morally obligatory, forbidden or permissible then that is because reasons recommends as reason does
                                      1. A possible rival to DCT?
                                        1. DCT requires some action (or omission) of God's in order to make it the case that we have some moral duty or permission. BUT Natural Law Theory of moral obligation and permission says that reason determines our moral duties and permissions.
                                          1. This might lead us to an epistemological thesis: reason tells us what our duties and permissions are
                                            1. This might lead us to a metaphysical theses: reason makes it the case that we have a particular duties and permissions
                                            2. The fact that one might adopt a natural law theory of duty and permission without invoking divine commands does not mean that Natural Law Theory and Divine Command Theory are incompatible
                                            3. Why should we do what reason tell us it is our duty to do, as rational beings? Whence the authority of reason's commands?
                                              1. We can see how reason can be an efficient epistemic device for revealing our duties; but what authority does it have to generate duties which we are obliged to fulfil?
                                              2. Suarez on Natural Law
                                                1. Rejected strict INTELLECTUALISM (view that reason does everything): Reason on its own has no authority; it can merely give us knowledge, but so can all sorts of sources (such as books) which have no right to impose duties upon us or grant us permissions
                                                  1. Also rejected strict VOLUNTARISM (merely God's volition): As we saw Leibniz argues, God's commands although authoritative, cannot be arbitrary: they must be grounded in reason
                                                    1. 2 Level View
                                                      1. The content of the moral law is determined by reason (traditional natural law theory)
                                                        1. But, the force of the moral law comes from God having commanded what natural law requires
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