Divine Command Theory

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The relationship between religion and morality is one which has been, and continues to be, exhaustively discussed and debated by philosophers. One argument which seeks to provide a solution to this matter of contention is the Divine Command Theory. In this paper, I will argue that the reasoning provided by the Divine Command Theory is an inadequate defence of the dependence of morality on religion and religious deities because it fails to provide logical justification for God's moral dictates. First, I will begin by providing a closer examination of the Divine Command Theory and its implications, and offer explanation for its widespread appeal. Next, I will introduce Plato's The Euthyphro, which critiques the Divine Command Theory's definition of morality, and its famous dilemma, which poses two possible explanations for the correlation between God's command and morality. Subsequently, I will explore Rachels' argument in Elements of Moral Philosophy, which posits that neither alternatives proposed by the Euthyphro dilemma are acceptable because the first fails to provide reason for God's moral judgments, implying that they are arbitrary, while the second is inconsistent with religous ideology. Next, I will examine and refute a counterargument made by many atheists... Finally, I will conclude that due to the failure of the Divine Command Theory to prove the dependence of morality upon God's will, independent moral standards do in fact exist.
In order to critique the Divine Command Theory, it is important to first understand it. According to the theory, morality is defined solely by the will of God and no moral standards exist independent of His will. It is simple and unambiguous; once accepted, issues such as moral relati...

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...tion, and therefore the Divine Command Theory has proved inadequate in this instance. In addition, accepting this alternative necessitates blind obedience, a condition which cannot be accepted by a critically thinking mind.
In The Euthyphro, Socrates makes a distinction between two kinds of love; theophiles, which “is of a kind to be loved because it is loved”, and osion, which is “loved because it is of a kind to be loved.” (The Euthyphro) The former is representative of his first, unsatisfactory alternative, and the latter is his second; however, this too is problematic. It avoids the fatal flaw of the original alternative through proposing that accepting God's definition of morality is acceptable because God is omniscient, observes that certain actions are more desirable than others and subsequently commands us to follow these standards for our own benefit.
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