Cahn and DC - Sam Black PHIL 120 NOTES ON GOD AND MORALITY...

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Sam Black PHIL 120 NOTES ON GOD AND MORALITY (INCLUDING STEVEN CAHN) Intro: Q1: If one assumes that “God exists” does that have implications for morality? A: Some philosophers think so. Some philosophers think so because they endorse a ‘divine command theory’ of morality. *** But not all philosophers who believe in God and believe that God is important for morality endorse divine command theory. Q2: Is divine command theory plausible? Cahn says, ‘No’ but his argument is pretty questionable. The Meaning of Divine Command Theory: Def’n Divine Command Theory or DC: an action is right in virtue of being commanded by God. Def’n Natural Law Theory : An action is right in virtue of being consistent with the moral law of nature. According to the Religious Version of Natural Law Theory: The law of nature is created by God, but having created the law of nature God is also required to obey that law. _PAGE _1_
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Explanation: Not all people who believe in God accept DC DC is not the same thing as believing that there is a God and that God is all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing. Some theists (believers in God), who affirm the classic Christian conception of God, also affirm “natural law theory”. Natural law theory holds that there is certain moral laws in the fabric of the Universe that bind even God (although God created or authored those laws). Background Context: Some theistic philosophers (e.g. John Locke) believe that the content of natural law (God’s law) can be discovered by natural reason. Locke thought that it can be proven by reason that God authored a moral law that requires that: all human life must be respected, all property rights must be respected, God must be worshipped and God will punish bad people. But it seems plausible that proponents of divine command theory believe that morality is known exclusively by faith. This is because it is impossible to prove that God must command anything: since it is up to God to command as God chooses. You cannot prove what God must will. Note : the topic of how morality is known is a side-issue for DC since DC is not a thesis about how morality’s content is known but what makes right actions right. 2. DC relates only to (ii) morality’s constitution. i) Morality’s Constitution: What makes an action right? Do God’s commands have authority in virtue of being God’s commands, _PAGE _
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or do they have authority from some other source (e.g. natural law, the principle of utility, the CI, etc). Proponents of DC answer ___________. ii) Morality’s Contents : What is the right thing to do in a circumstance? Or what duties do we have? Proponents of DC can disagree: they concur that our duties are ultimately settled by God’s commands, but can disagree about what God commands. iii)
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Cahn and DC - Sam Black PHIL 120 NOTES ON GOD AND MORALITY...

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