God’s Love is Irrelevant to the Euthyphro Problem
- 63 Downloads
One prominent response, based on the work of Robert Adams, Edward Wierenga, and others, to the Euthyphro objection to the divine command theory is to point out that God is essentially omnibenevolent. The commands of an essentially loving being will not be arbitrary since they are grounded in his nature, nor is it possible for a loving God to issue horrendous commands such as the gratuitous torture of infants. This paper argues that this response is inadequate. The divine command theory attributes to God the power to make an action morally obligatory. Given the reasonable assumption that any omnipotent being has the same powers as God, contemplating the commands of a malevolent deity is enough to cast doubt on the claim that any being, loving or otherwise, has the power to make an action morally obligatory just by commanding it.
KeywordsEuthyphro dilemma Theistic ethics Divine command theory
I would like to thank Greg Cavin, Carlos Colombetti, Greg Kelley, and three anonymous reviewers for their very helpful comments on this paper.
- Adams, Robert M. (1973). A modified divine command theory of ethical wrongness. Religion and Morality, 318–47.Google Scholar
- Adams, Robert M. (1979). Divine command metaethics modified again. The Journal of Religious Ethics, 66–79.Google Scholar
- Evans, C. Stephen. (2013). God and moral obligation. Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Murphy, Mark C. 2002 An essay on divine authority. Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
- Pruss, A. R. (2009). Another step in divine command dialectics. Faith and Philosophy, 26(4), 432–439.Google Scholar
- Quinn, P. (2000). Divine command theory. In H. LaFollette (Ed.), The Blackwell guide to ethical theory (pp. 53–73). Cambridge Mass: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Wielenberg, Erik J (2005). Value and virtue in a godless universe. Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar