ethics, divine-command theory of

ethics, divine-command theory of
   The divine-command theory of ethics views the ground of moral laws as deriving from the divine command or will. This is one response to the ancient Euthyphro dilemma: is something good because God commands it, or does God command it because it is good? Since to choose the latter option seems to place ethics outside God, the divine-command theory chooses the former option and so bases ethical laws on the divine will or command or, perhaps, the divine nature itself. Many able philosophers have defended this position including William of Ockham and, recently, Robert Merrihew Adams and Philip Quinn. Critics claim that the theory faces the problem of arbitrariness insofar as God could have decreed that it would be morally good to torture fuzzy kittens and immoral to help old ladies cross the street. Another objection is that the theory undermines the meaning of God's perfect goodness, for if the good simply derives from the will of God then God is good simply in virtue of following his own will.
   Further reading: Harris 2003; Helm 1981; Quinn 1978

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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