philosophy - Eliot Lee The media has often portrayed...

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Eliot Lee The media has often portrayed morality as a facetious scenario in which a protagonist is faced with a decision when all of the sudden, an angel appears on the protagonist’s shoulder and a devil on the other. While the protagonist stands dumbfounded at the situation, the angel and devil bicker at one another and attempt to reason with the poor protagonist as he ponders upon the choices laid before him. The presence the angel and devil suggest that morality comes from higher-beings namely God. However, Immanuel Kant suggests that morality comes not from God, but from human capacity to reason. He further states that human understanding of morality and ethics is possible even without religion or the belief in a higher being such as a god to determine what is moral or not. The view of many religions is that the distinction between what is right and wrong was commanded by some higher being or god. This belief is also known as the Divine Command Theory. It is only through the command of a higher being or a god that can make some things objectively and universally right and wrong. However, a paradox arises from this view. Does God say some things are right because they are the right things or are they right simply because God says so? In other words, are God’s choices of what is right and wrong are arbitrary or the choices derived from other reasons? This paradox is also known as the Euthyphro Paradox. There are two problems. First, if the Divine Command Theory says that the choices are arbitrary, then it is possible that God could have commanded one to sacrifice his or her neighbor for His glory rather than to love one’s neighbor or not to murder. If morality was decided through the drawing from a hat and no other reasons existed for the distinction between what is right and wrong, then there is no possible reason to follow them except for self-interest and attrition. Morality determined by mere personal whim, leads to the performance of morals as a result of
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some kind of expectation of a reward or prevention of a punishment. The second problem arises if God commands some things to be right or wrong because they are right and wrong. If there are reasons that God chose loving one’s neighbor and not murdering them as right and sacrificing one’s neighbor as wrong, then those reasons determine why such actions are right or wrong. These reasons would not simply be God’s commands. If
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This note was uploaded on 02/23/2010 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Mattruckgaber during the Spring '06 term at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.

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philosophy - Eliot Lee The media has often portrayed...

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