03DCTandRelativism

03DCTandRelativism - Ethics and Religion How does faith or...

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Unformatted text preview: Ethics and Religion How does faith or belief in God relate to the project of moral philosophy? - Are the two incompatible? -- No - Do we need to settle questions of faith before addressing questions of morality? -- This depends in part on whether we accept Divine Command Theory Divine Command Theory (DCT) 1. An act is morally right if and only if it is required by God (or by the gods) 2. An act is morally wrong iff it is forbidden by God 3. God's commandments are what makes these God' acts morally right or wrong - Theists tend to accept 1 and 2 -- But many theists reject 3, and therefore reject divine command theory Divine Insight Theory (DIT) 1. An act is morally right if and only if it is required by God (or by the gods) 2. An act is morally wrong iff it is forbidden by God 3. God's commandments are what makes these God' acts morally right or wrong 3'. God's commandments are an infallible guide to God' moral truths, because God perfectly perceives the demands of morality -- Perception makes 3' incompatible with 3 3' Should a Theist Accept DCT or DIT? Version of Socrates' challenge from the Euthyphro: Socrates' Euthyphro: What makes something like murder wrong? Two possibilities: 1. Murder is wrong because God forbids it (DCT) 2. God forbids murder because it is wrong (DIT) (or because it has some independent wrong-making feature) wrong- Applying Socrates' Argument Why is murder in the state of "being forbidden" by forbidden" God? Possible Answer: Because God forbids it. -- OK, as far as it goes. But then: Why does God forbid it? -- Answer can't be: can' Because it is forbidden by God Rather: God forbids it for some other reason -- And this reason (whatever it is) is why it is in the state of "being forbidden" forbidden" Should a Theist Accept DCT or DIT? Version of Socrates' challenge from the Euthyphro: Socrates' Euthyphro: What makes something like murder wrong? Two possibilities: 1. Murder is wrong because God forbids it (DCT) 2. God forbids murder because it is wrong (DIT) (or because it has some independent wrong-making feature) wrong- 1 Euthyphro's "Way Out" What if God makes commandments at will, or on a whim? - Then there is no answer to the question: Why does God command us not to murder? -- Murder is wrong because it is forbidden by God Does this work? Problems for the "Way Out" 1. God's goodness is trivialized God' "God always acts rightly" means: rightly" "God always does what God wants God to do" do" (God doesn't suffer weakness of will) doesn' 2. Distinction between right and wrong becomes arbitrary matter of God's whim God' - No reason for God not to command us to murder Implications for DCT DCT undermines: - God's goodness God' - Stable basis for morality Perhaps partial DCT is possible - Isaac But full-blooded DCT is unattractive full- Implications for Theism A theist should reject DCT - But can still accept DIT DIT: God's commands are not the basis of morality God' Instead: They perfectly reflect morality DIT and Philosophical Ethics DIT: God's commands distinguish right from wrong God' -- But they don't tell us what makes things don' right or wrong Philosophical Ethics: Aim to figure this out -- And shed further insight on what is right and wrong Moral Relativism (MR) There are no universal moral truths What is right or wrong for a person depends entirely on his/her society: A is right = My society approves of A A is wrong = My society disapproves of A 2 Argument for MR P1 Different cultures have different moral codes P2 We have no unbiased basis for preferring our own society's moral code society' C There is no universal moral code Worries about MR 1. No room for criticism of other societies -- except in terms of internal consistency 2. No criticism of socially accepted practices in one's own society one' 3. No such thing as moral progress -- What looks like progress is merely change Problems with the Argument for MR P1 Different cultures have different moral codes P2 We have no unbiased basis for preferring our own society's moral code society' C There is no universal moral code Problems with the Argument for MR P1 Different cultures have different moral codes P2 We have no unbiased basis for preferring our own society's moral code society' C There is no universal moral code 1. There is much less disagreement than there appears to be. A. Apparent disagreement in value is often actually disagreement in belief 1. There is much less disagreement than there appears to be. B. Apparent disagreement stems from application of moral principles to extreme circumstances Problems with the Argument for MR P1 Different cultures have different moral codes P2 We have no unbiased basis for preferring our own society's moral code society' C There is no universal moral code Upshot of the Argument for MR No need to reject the idea of universal moral truths Instead: - Question our own society's moral code society' - Be open to the possibility that our views of morality are wrong 2. Even if there is disagreement, this does not mean that there is no objective truth 3 ...
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