Divine Command Theory Essay, Research Paper
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. 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.
Комментариев на модерации: 2.