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PHIL 2070 Chapter Notes -Divine Command Theory, Moral Agency


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 2070
Professor
Susan Dimock

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PHIL 2070 Jan. 15
Divine Command Theory
Divine Command Theory
- Two Basic Claims:
o(1) A god or gods approve of or command certain actions
o(2) The actions that the god or gods approve of or command are morally
right because of this approval or command
- Religious people tend to believe these two claims, also claim to know something
about what their god or gods approve of
- Divine Command extremist are known to outrageously act upon the thoughts of
their god or gods (e.g. kill physician who performed an abortion)
- Two Questions to be Raised:
o(1) Is such theory defensible?
o(2) Even if it is, can its followers be described as responsible moral
agents?
- As an abstract philosophical proposition, Divine Command encounters a few
problems
o(1) The theory does not stipulate which god or gods, but god or gods in
general
o(2) There are many forks in the roads of each religion (Christianity:
new/old testament, literal/fiction reading, human/god’s writing)
Plato and Religious Commands
- What is the difference between the following two statements?
oGod loves/commands/approves of an action because it is good
oAn action is good because God loves/commands/approves of it
- Plato believes that the first was is true and the latter is false, God wants to
love/command/approve an action because it is good, good is warrant enough
Moral Agents: Human vs. Robot
- Similarities between human and robot include:
oGod – Programmer
oBible – Program
Both kill an innocent person the robot is not at fault, does this
mean the human is not as well (consider the human being a robot
of a certain religion)
- The difference is the human, as a moral agent has the choice to choose the
responsible or irresponsible moral agent to act upon
- The human may evaluate the decision being made or act blindly
Conclusion
- After Plato, many philosophers begin to believe that following god or gods
commands are not a requirement for good
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