Divine Command Theory

Divine Command Theory The Divine Command Theory Religion and ethics are seen to be somehow inseparable in our culture. Religious leaders are usually appealed to in some capacity when dealing with various moral and political problems. Their opinions are given great weight because they are thought to be in some kind of special relationship with God that the common person does not have. The view that God creates the moral law is often called the Divine Command Theory. According to this view, what makes an action right is that God desires it to be done.

The divine command theory is the idea that moral actions are those which correspond to God’s will. The simplest and most common form of the Divine Command Theory states that the phrase morally right actually means commanded by God. Similarly, morally wrong means forbidden by God. Accepted, this explanation of Divine Command Theory does not consume all possible expressions, but it is the simple is used to introduce the theory and it is its common form. A slightly more sophisticated form of the Divine Command Theory would be that something is right if and only if God commands it, and this form should be kept in mind. However, if goodness is not an essential property of God, then there is no guarantee that what he wills will be good.

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Even if God is all-powerful and all knowing, it does not follow that he is all-good. One can be powerful and intelligent without being good. Thus, the Divine Command Theory faces a dilemma: if goodness is a defining attribute of God, the theory is circular, but if it is not a defining distinction, the theory is false. In either case, the Divine Command Theory cannot be considered a potential theory of morality. The preceding considerations indicate that it is unreasonable to believe that an action is right because God wills it to be done.

One can probably believe that God wills an action to be done because it is right, but to believe this is to believe that the rightness of an action is independent of God. In any event, the view that the moral law requires religion is unsound. Plato demonstrated the logical independence of religion and morality in the Euthyphro; the belief that morality requires God remains a widely held moral statement. Socrates, in a discussion about the nature of piety, asks, Is conduct right because the gods command it, or do the gods command it because it is right? According to this argument theorists is given two options: either it is good because God commands it, or God commands it because it is good. This first alternative that it is good because God commands it leads to the idea that God’s commands are arbitrary – without justification.

God cannot appeal to the goodness of an act as justification for commanding it, because it is the very command that makes it good. Before God’s command, the act was neither good nor bad. God has no reason to choose one action as a good one before God’s own command. Surely, the Divine Command theorist would not want to admit that God’s commands are arbitrary. This option is therefore unsound.

When this second alternative is that, the gods command it because it is right. To say that God commands an action because it is good is to say that the action is good independent of God’s command. Whether or not God commands the action is irrelevant to that action’s goodness or badness. It is good or bad before God’s command. There must be some independent standard of goodness and badness that does not depend on God’s will. The point here is that even if God were asked why he chose to command something the reasons would have to be independent of God’s will. This shows that morality is independent of religion.

Religion is only an enforcer of morality and not related to it. To say that morality is dependent on morality is to state that people without religion have no morals. The argument drawn from Plato’s Euthyphro effectively weakens the Divine Command Theory. If it is claimed that God commands an action because it is good, there is the consequence that morality is independent of God’s will. Philosophy.


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