What is divine command theory?
What is the Euthyphro dilemma?
What is the modified version of divine command theory proposed by Robert Adams?
What is the objection to divine command theory based on moral motivation?
How did William of Ockham respond to the Euthyphro dilemma?
How did Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann respond to the Euthyphro dilemma?
What is the objection to divine command theory based on autonomy?
Who presented a version of divine command theory that began by casting ethics as the pursuit of the supreme good, which delivers human happiness?
What are the five different forms of God's revealed will presented by scholastics?
What is the objection to divine command theory based on religious pluralism?
Divine command theory of morality
- Divine command theory proposes that an action's status as morally good is equivalent to whether it is commanded by God.
- The theory asserts that morality is determined by God's commands, and for a person to be moral, they must follow God's commands.
- Numerous variants of the theory have been presented, including a modified version that links morality to human conceptions of right and wrong.
- Semantic challenges to divine command theory have been proposed, arguing that being commanded by God and being morally obligatory do not have an identical meaning.
- The Euthyphro dilemma presents a dilemma that threatens the moral arbitrariness of morality or the irrelevance of God to morality.
- Divine command theory has also been criticised for its apparent incompatibility with the omnibenevolence of God, moral autonomy, and religious pluralism.
- The scholastics distinguished between five different forms of God's revealed will, including giving precepts, prohibitions, permissions, counsels, and fulfilling commands.
- Figures including St Augustine, Duns Scotus, and John Calvin have presented various forms of divine command theory.
- Augustine offered a version of divine command theory that began by casting ethics as the pursuit of the supreme good, which delivers human happiness.
- Robert Adams proposes a modified divine command theory based on the omnibenevolence of God in which morality is linked to human conceptions of right and wrong.
- Alternative theories include divine motivation theory, which proposes that goodness is determined by God's motives, rather than by what he commands.
- Objections to divine command theory include semantic challenges, moral motivation, and the Euthyphro dilemma.The Euthyphro dilemma poses the question of whether actions are good because God commands them or whether God commands them because they are good. If the former is true, then God's commands are always moral, even if they involve suffering, which challenges the divine command theory. If the latter is true, then morality is no longer dependent on God, which also challenges the divine command theory. William of Ockham responded to the dilemma by arguing that if God commanded people to be cruel, then it would be morally obligatory. Eleonore Stump and Norman Kretzmann responded by suggesting that God and goodness are identical, and William Alston argued that God's morality is distinct from simply obeying his own commands. The theory of divine command also challenges God's omnibenevolence, as it implies that God's goodness consists of following his own commands. Edward Wierenga counters this by claiming that whatever God chooses to do is good, and William Wainwright argues that God is motivated by what is morally good. The theory of divine command also challenges autonomy, as it suggests that God's will determines what is good, making humans followers of an imposed moral law, which Robert Adams counters by arguing that humans must still choose whether or not to follow God's commands. The theory of divine command also poses problems for pluralism, as it is impossible to know which god's or religion's commands should be followed in a world of religious pluralism. Some argue that different religions can lead to the same God, while others argue that determining which god should be listened to remains a problem.
Test your knowledge of the divine command theory of morality with this quiz! Explore the various forms of the theory and its challenges, including the Euthyphro dilemma and objections to its compatibility with God's omnibenevolence, moral autonomy, and religious pluralism. See if you can navigate the semantic challenges and distinguish between divine command theory and alternative theories like divine motivation theory. Whether you're a philosophy student or simply interested in moral theory, this quiz will put your understanding to the test.
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