The divine command theory of ethics 2.docx - The divine...

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The divine command theory of ethics (Part 1): Introductionand arguments for...Information:This article looks at the key ideas and arguments for and against thebelief that morality is (and should be) grounded in the commands of God. To read part2 of this article (arguments against) click here. A version of this article was originallypublished on the website .Introduction'The religions of the book are distinctive, and perhaps unique, inpostulating a personal deity who in each case makes a set of moraldemands on its worshippers.'(Grayling A. C.,What is Good? The Search for theBest Way to Live, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2003 p.59)The simple and basic premise of the divine command theory of ethics (DCT), is thatsomething is considered good because God wills it (or God commands us to do it). Inlight of this, all 'God-given' moral truth (in any theistic faith) can be said to have thefollowing features:As God is unchanging, so moral truth will never change.God's commands must be treated as the Ultimate source of authority for what isconsidered 'right' and 'wrong', even if we do not agree with this or do notunderstand why this has to be the case.The more knowledge we have of how God wants us to live (or the closer we getto God), the better our lives will be.Due to the relationship between God and 'goodness' (or the Good), we often hearsome believers lamenting the downfall of society due to people turning away fromGod:
'When we as a country again acknowledge God as our creator and JesusChrist as the Savior of mankind, we will be able to turn this nation aroundeconomically as well as in every other way.'(Rev, Jerry Falwell)A major assumption of the divine command theory of ethics is thatGod is good (benevolent), and only wills good things (or issuesgood commands) for the sake of humanity.The Euthyphro DilemmaAlthough the basic premise of the DCT is rather simple (what God commands is good,therefore do only that), things get somewhat complicated once we start to considerwhy God's commands are good.The classic discussion of this issue was by the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato (circa.428 - 347BCE), in his textThe Last Days of Socrates. Socrates is outside acourthouse, where he is being prosecuted by a man called Meletus for apparentlycorrupting the youth of Athens with his 'wisdom'. Unsurprisingly he gets into aconversation with someone (Euthyphro), who is there to prosecute his father forallowing a 'prisoner' to die. Euthyphro believes that his actions are holy (or 'good'), soSocrates challenges him to state what he thinks holiness (or 'Goodness') is.Euthyphro's answer is that, 'what is agreeable to the gods is holy, and what is notagreeable is unholy'. However, Socrates notes that sometimes the gods disagree aboutthings, so this questions any sense of universal agreement amongst them as to whatholiness is. In response, Euthyphro argues that although the gods may disagree oncertain things,allof them would agree that killing a man is wrong (unholy). Of

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