Historical Examination of the Divine Command Theory and The role of God in Western Moral Philosophy
The divine command theory, a well-known theory in normative ethics, takes goodness and badness of actions to depend on divine orders and prohibitions, and thus, takes the divine command to have a prominent role in ethics. The initial version of the theory pointing to the role of the notion of divine will in ethics can be found in the dialogues of Socrates, and in particular, Euthyphro, but it was later developed into more sophisticated versions. In addition to Church Fathers, and medieval scholars such as Augustin, Gregory the Great, Abelard, Scotus, William of Ockham, renaissance philosophers and the Enlightenment period (such as Luther, Preston, Bacon, and Suarez), also introduced versions of the theory. Descartes, Locke, Paley, and Kierkegaard can be considered as advocates of the view in the modern period. Many people believe that the recent, moderate version of the theory as suggested by Robert Merrihew Adams has revived the theory in recent decades and some people have subscribed to it. In this paper, we will have a historical review and an analysis of the view. We will briefly review different approaches to the role of God in ethics and traditional as well as modern versions of the divine command theory in western moral philosophy.
Quarterly Journal of Moral Studies, Volume:1 Issue: 1, 2017
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