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Euthyphro: Conflicts in the Divine Command Theory

Uploaded by Rubayet on Feb 10, 2002

In his dialogue Euthyphro, Plato poses the question of whether the gods love what is holy because it is holy or whether it is holy because the gods love it. The corresponding question in terms of ethics is whether God loves the good because it is good or whether it is good because God loves it. Divine command theorists give a clear and unequivocal answer to this question in the area of ethics: they maintain whatever is good is good only because God wills it to be good. This has serious implications for how divine command theorists live their everyday lives. Moral decisions are ultimately made on the basis of what God commands, not what reason tells us. We have to turn to God for the answer to all our questions about how to act. They claim that no matter what God commands, it is right just because God commands it. There simply is nothing more to say about it.

However, divine command theories do not strongly correspond with all religions. They fit best within a monotheistic religion in which God is all-good. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all meet this requirement. Yet divine command theories make little or no sense within either a Hindu or a Buddhist worldview. For Hindus, two things count against the divine command view of ethics. First, it’s a polytheistic religion where there are many gods, who are not necessarily in agreement with one another (similar to ancient Greek gods). Second, the gods are not all-good; they, too, are a mixture of good and evil. These Hindu gods neither always act good nor always give good advice to mankind. The situation is quite different in Buddhism, for there simply is no personal God in the Buddhist religion. Consequently, the idea that something is good because God wills it simply has no place.

One of the most difficult issues for divine command theorists to answer is the question of how we can come to know God’s will. The difficulty is not that no one claims to know God’s will. Rather, the problem is just the opposite: too many people claim to know God’s will, and they have quite different ideas of what it is. Why should we believe that any one of them has any greater claim to being right than any other? Perhaps God’s will is revealed in sacred texts of great moral caliber - but which...

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Uploaded by:   Rubayet

Date:   02/10/2002

Category:   Miscellaneous

Length:   4 pages (856 words)

Views:   2649

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