the divine command theory states that
God gives purpose to our lives, and we are fulfilled in loving God.

The dialogue between Socrates and Euthyphro is nearly omnipresent in philosophical discussions of the relationship between God and ethics. Alston’s argument is that if we interpret these statements correctly, a theist can in fact grasp both horns of this putative dilemma. [20] Adams' theory attempts to counter the challenge that morality might be arbitrary, as moral commands are not based solely on the commands of God, but are founded on his omnibenevolence. For example, neither drinking gasoline nor lying nor committing adultery will help us to function properly and so be fulfilled, as human beings. The Divine Command Theory states that certain actions are sins, based on their moral and ethical value. He argued that to achieve this happiness, humans must love objects that are worthy of human love in the correct manner; this requires humans to love God, which then allows them to correctly love that which is worthy of being loved.

As an alternative to divine command theory, Linda Zagzebski has proposed divine motivation theory, which still fits into a monotheistic framework. Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods? Semantic challenges to divine command theory have been proposed; the philosopher William Wainwright argued that to be commanded by God and to be morally obligatory do not have an identical meaning, which he believed would make defining obligation difficult. 1992. [5], Adams proposes that in many Judeo-Christian contexts, the term 'wrong' is used to mean being contrary to God's commands. Hence, God is no longer absolutely sovereign. Rather than equivalence, Quinn offers a causal theory in which our moral obligations are created by divine commands or acts of will: “…a sufficient causal condition that it is obligatory that p is that God commands that p, and a necessary causal condition that it is obligatory that p is that God commands that p” (312). Given this, we could be morally obligated to inflict cruelty upon others.

In response, Alston points out that there must be a stopping point for any explanation. 1998. If divine command theory is accepted, it implies that God is good because he obeys his own commands; Alston argued that this is not the case and that God's goodness is distinct from abiding by moral obligations. In response to this, Nielsen argues that we simply do not have evidence for the existence of God.

Kant's view that morality should be determined by the categorical imperative – duty to the moral law, rather than acting for a specific end – has been viewed as incompatible with divine command theory. 1990. Aquinas’ view is that God cannot command cruelty because he is omnipotent. “A Defensible Divine Command Theory.”. Paul Copan has argued in favour of the theory from a Christian viewpoint, and Linda Trinkaus Zagzebski's divine motivation theory proposes that God's motivations, rather than commands, are the source of morality. Wainright (2005) explains further that while it is true that the moral obligatoriness of truth telling could not have been God’s reason for commanding it, the claim that God does not have moral reasons for commanding it does not follow. Clark, Kelly James and Anne Poortenga. Given this, the arguments offered for and against Divine Command Theory have both theoretical and practical importance. “Must There Be a Standard of Moral Goodness Apart from God?”, Murphy, Mark. [7] Although Christianity does not entail divine command theory, it is commonly associated with it.

Morality is not based on human intent or human nature or human character. Objective moral properties stick out due to a lack of naturalness of fit in an entirely naturalistic universe. Moreover, on a theistic view of ethics, we have a reason to act in ways that run counter to our self-interest, because such actions of self-sacrifice have deep significance and merit within a theistic framework. Clark and Poortenga argued that God created human nature and thus commanded a certain morality; hence he cannot arbitrarily change what is right or wrong for humans. Are moral acts willed by God because they are good, or are they good because they are willed by God? While it makes sense to conceive of God as forming an intention to do an action, or judging that it would be good to do an action, the notion that he commands himself to do an action is incoherent. In the course of their conversation, Socrates is surprised to discover that Euthyphro is prosecuting his own father for the murder of a servant. Since we have given up belief in God, we should also give up the moral understanding that rests on such belief, and engage in moral philosophy without using such terms. For example, our divine command theorist might claim that if God commands S to do a, S must do a if S meets Rawls’ demands of full consciousness, rationality, awareness of the meaning and use of the relevant words, and freedom from coercion. God's commands dictate right and wrong—what He says to do is right, and what He says not to do is wrong. But this trivialization is not what we mean when we assert that God is morally good. It is not possible for a loving God to command cruelty for its own sake. Nielsen argues that even if there is no purpose of life, there can still be a purpose in life. On this view, moral obligations attach to all human beings, even those so saintly as to totally lack any tendency, in the ordinary sense of that term, to do other than what it is morally good to do. We have rights, dignity, freedom, and responsibility because God has designed us this way.

Scholastic philosopher John Duns Scotus argued that the only moral obligations that God could not take away from humans are to love God, as God is, definitionally, the most loveable thing. In his Critique of Practical Reason, Immanuel Kant, who has traditionally not been seen as an advocate of Divine Command Theory (for an opposing view see Nuyen, 1998), claims that morality requires faith in God and an afterlife. Without God, there is no basis for our moral structure and under this, what is moral is so because God has decreed it as such. For Anscombe, this meant that we should abandon talk of morality as law, and instead focus on morality as virtue. And no moral obligations attach to God, assuming, as we are here, that God is essentially perfectly good. The moral law imposes the obligation that p. Alston, William. “Some Suggestions for Divine Command Theorists.” In, Anscombe, G. E. M. 1958. Thus, to say that it is good to love our neighbors is semantically equivalent to saying God commands us to love our neighbors. A satisfactory answer will include the claim that there is something valuable about human beings and the nature that we possess that grounded God’s decision, but it is incumbent upon the proponent of this response to defend this claim. This perspective assumes that objective moral properties exist, which is of course highly controversial. Those who do evil will be punished, and those who live morally upstanding lives will be vindicated and even rewarded. 2005. These dispositions are good, even if they are not grounded in a disposition to obey God. We must believe that there is a God who will help us satisfy the demands of the moral law. That is, an action such as torturing someone for fun is ethically wrong, irrespective of whether anyone actually believes that it is wrong, and it is wrong because it is contrary to the commands of a loving God. Various forms of divine command theory have been presented by philosophers including William of Ockham, St Augustine, Duns Scotus, and John Calvin. The Divine Command theory states that things are morally right and morally wrong due to: the specific command from God. A divine law requires the existence of God, as the divine lawgiver. He used the example of water not having an identical meaning to H2O to propose that "being commanded by God" does not have an identical meaning to "being obligatory". According to Kant, we must believe that God exists because the requirements of morality are too much for us to bear. [5] Augustine supported Plato's view that a well-ordered soul is a desirable consequence of morality.

Divine Motivation Theory. [5], Divine command theory features in the ethics of many modern religions, including Judaism, Islam, the Baháʼí Faith, and Christianity, as well as being a part of numerous older polytheistic religions. However, if God commanded us to inflict such suffering, doing so would become the morally right thing to do. In response, divine command theorists have argued that they can still make sense of God’s goodness, by pointing out that he possesses traits which are good as distinguished from being morally obligatory. Here we have a conflict between the religious and the ethical. Adams writes that his theory is an attempt to define what being ethically 'wrong' consists of and accepts that it is only useful to those within a Judeo-Christian context. His view of morality was thus heteronomous, as he believed in deference to a higher authority (God), rather than acting autonomously.[8]. [26], Philosopher William Wainwright considered a challenge to the theory on semantic grounds, arguing that "being commanded by God" and "being obligatory" do not mean the same thing, contrary to what the theory suggests. Aquinas offers a further response to this sort of challenge to God’s omnipotence. In dealing with the criticism that a seemingly immoral act would be obligatory if God commanded it, he proposes that God does not command cruelty for its own sake. The first horn of the dilemma posed by Socrates to Euthyphro is that if an act is morally right because God commands it, then morality becomes arbitrary. We would be obligated to do so, because God commanded it. The text is considered to be the locus classicus on the contemplation of evil given the presence of an all-powerful God that is good. God is no longer sovereign over the entire universe, but rather is subject to a moral law external to himself. This takes us into another problem for divine command theory, namely, that it is only those who follow the correct religion, and the correct interpretation of that religion, that are moral, which seems highly problematic.


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