Monday, April 28, 2014

Another argument against divine command theory

  1. If Divine Command Theory is true, necessarily, A is obligatory if and only if God commands A.
  2. Necessarily, if there are created persons, obedience to God is obligatory.
  3. Possibly, God creates persons but does not command them to obey him.
  4. So, if Divine Command Theory is true, possibly obedience to God is not obligatory. (1 and 3)
  5. So Divine Command Theory is not true. (2 and 4)
Premise (2) seems quite intuitive. Premise (3) seems to follow from divine freedom and the fact that God is under no obligation to command creatures.


Drew said...

The argument seems to trade on the meaning of 2. So a divine command theorist like myself would say that we either need to define obedience to God as "If God commands x, do x, and if God forbids y, don't do y"

Entailment holds with a false antecedent, so if God does not issue commands, we can say that all creatures are obedient.

Michael Rabenberg said...

Do you think obedience to God is obligatory if God has given us no commands?

Alexander R Pruss said...

1. Even if God doesn't issue commands, the duty to obey God's commands has some force--it requires one to be ready to obey God, to evaluate non-incredible claims about God's having commanded something, etc.

2. Suppose I have a justified false belief that God has forbidden me to eat tuna. Surely it would be wrong for me to eat tuna.

Heath White said...

Ad 1: the DC theorist can say that such dispositions are virtuous without claiming they are obligatory.

Ad 2: This is question-begging against the DC theorist (although a plausible counterexample to DC ethics).

Husain Alshehhi said...

What theory do you adhere?

Alexander R Pruss said...


Ad 1: This is more than a matter of dispositions, though. One needs to actually evaluate claims about whether God has commanded something. That's a matter of action.

Heath White said...

Here, then, is a different argument against DCT. Probably it could be tidied up a bit.

1. If DCT is true, then everyone has an obligation to evaluate whether some imperatives are commanded by God.
2. If DCT is true, no one has any obligations that are not commanded by God.
3. If DCT is true, God has commanded everyone to evaluate whether some imperatives are commanded by God. (from 1 and 2)
4. Possibly, God does not issue any commands.
5. Possibly, DCT is false. (from 3,4 by a modal version of MT)
6. If DCT is true it is necessarily true.
7. So, DCT is false. (from 5,6)

Alexander R Pruss said...

I don't know that 1 is a necessary truth. In a world where there is no shred of evidence of such imperatives, maybe there is no such duty?

Heath White said...

I took 1 to be what you were getting at in previous comments.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't more recent divine command theorists like Adams say that God's commands flow from His loving nature? If so, wouldn't the command to obey Him follow necessarily when there are created beings? I don't think this would contradict God's freedom as it seems to arise from God's character in the right way (to echo your Omnipotence article).

David Gordon said...

What if you weaken Premise {1] to: "If Divine Command Theory is true, necessarily, A is obligatory if and only if God commands A or it is not possible that God command not-A."? My thought here is that God could not command "Do not obey the commands of God" because it is impossible to obey this command.