Divine Command Ethics
The view that moral views are true by virtue of being commanded by God
"The law of God i s perfect... the commandment of God is pure" Psalms 19:7-8
"The good consists of always doig what God wills at any particular moment" Emil Brunner
Allows for objective moral facts, gives a reason for morality
Euthyphro dilemma, Leibniz "for why praise him for what he has done if he would be equally praisewothy in doing the contrary", "No morality can be founded on authority" Ayer, problem of evil, atheist morality
"Is X good because God wills it or does God will X because it is good?" - Plato
First stem means that if God commanded us to headbut strangers it would be good, makes God's commands arbitrary. Leibniz "For why praise him for what he has done if he would be equally praiseworthy in doing the contrary"
Second stem means morality is independent of God - defeats the ex nihilo idea that Christians believe in
William Lane Craig said "God wills it because he is good"
Not an argument
1) The universe is fair 2) All human beings desire and seek happiness 3) All human beings ought to be moral and do their duty 4) The highest good (Summum Bonum) is the combination of virtue and the reward of happiness 5) Everyone seeks the Summum Bonum 6) What is sought must be achievable because the universe is fair 7) The Summum Bonum is not achievable in this life 8) So it is necessary to postulate a life after death 9) it is necessary to postulate a God to guarantee fairness
John Hick says just because something is possible does not mean it will happen, contradiction as we ought to achieve something impossible. Brian Davies Kant jumps from ought to be possible to therefore is possible - peace ought to be possible but is it? Betrand Russell suggests religion works in opposition to morality
Theories of Conscience
St Paul said the conscience was the awareness of what is good and bad but can be mistaken
Augustine of Hippo: conscience as a tool for observing the law of God and the voice of God speaking to us
St Aquinas: device for distinguishing right form wrong actions, people want to be good and when do wrong it is due to an apparent good
Joseph Butler: Conscience as final moral decision maker, humans influenced by sef-love and benevolence - conscience directs to benevolence. Guide put there by God and must be obeyed 'our natural guide, the guide assigned us by the author of nature'
Freud: Conscience as guilt, Id pleasure principle - childlike selfish, Ego ruled by reality principle - reacts to external world rational, Super-ego Ruled by moral principle - internalised rules from authority
Psychologists - mature conscience concerned with right and wrong, acts on things of value. Immature conscience feelings of guilt put there at a pre-rational stage, wants to gain approval
Aristotle suggested that everything is aimed at an ultimate goal, suggesting that there is a Natural Law that governs living things. From this we can see that everything will benefit if it strives to fulfill its purpose, meaning a thing is 'good' when it fulfills its purpose
Aquinas saw Natural Law as created by God, Aquinas thought that we were able to discover our own purpose using our intellectual abilities. 1) We should act virtuously 2) Avoid sin or failing our purpose 3) Live normally in society and have a fruitful marriage 4) Seek to learn about the world using our reason 5) Worship God
Strengths - fits well with Christian views
Weaknesses - removes individual discretion, is/ought fallacy, Natural Law relies on nothing changing, Aquinas' Natural Law is different to Aristotle
"Relgion prevents a rational education" Betrand Russell, "generally speaking, errors in religion are dangerous, in philosophy only ridiculous" Hume, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious convictions" Pascal
breed intolerance - different churchs persecute each other. Feuerbach "Wherever morality is based on theology, wherever the right is made dependent on divine theology , the most immoral, unjust and infamous things can be justified and established"
are built on fear - idea of heaven and hell to make people conform out of fear
are repressive - a set of do nots, can be interpreted as life denying. "we are the heirs to the conscience - vivisection and self-crucifixion of two thousand years" Betrand Russell
make people weak - leading to stock moral reactions and preventing learning from experience. Nietzsche said Christianity led to a devaluation of this world in favour to the next. Slave morality "Your neighbour love is your bad love of yourself"