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Ethics: Divine Command Theory
#1

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
So this thread is for Percie and me to debate the issue of Divine Command Theory.

This definition of DCT is provided by Russ Shafer-Landau in The Fundamentals of Ethics:

Divine Command Theory-
"An act is morally required just because it is commanded by God, and immoral just because God forbids it."

I think this position is false. Elsewhere, Percie has stated that he agrees with this position. We have agreed via PM to debate the issue here.

I invite Percie to make some opening statements. Or, if he prefers, I will go first. Either way is fine with me.
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#2

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
I don't have much time right now, so if you're prepared go ahead.
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#3

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-24-2021, 02:05 AM)vulcanlogician Wrote: So this thread is for Percie and me to debate the issue of Divine Command Theory.

This definition of DCT is provided by Russ Shafer-Landau in The Fundamentals of Ethics:

Divine Command Theory-
"An act is morally required just because it is commanded by God, and immoral just because God forbids it."

I think this position is false. Elsewhere, Percie has stated that he agrees with this position. We have agreed via PM to debate the issue here.

I invite Percie to make some opening statements. Or, if he prefers, I will go first. Either way is fine with me.

No, Percie has not stated that he agrees with this position, as this definition was not stated before.
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#4

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
Does the definition accurately reflect your beliefs? You said you accepted Divine Command Theory. This definition is as good as any. But if you'd prefer a different definition, fine.
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#5

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
I would say:

An act is moral if it is commanded by God, and immoral if God forbids it.
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#6

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-25-2021, 09:54 AM)Percie Wrote: I would say:

An act is moral if it is commanded by God, and immoral if God forbids it.

Great. That's the definition we'll use then.

I would only add "just because" it is commanded by God because that's the heart of the issue here.  That God saying something is morally wrong is what makes it morally wrong.

***
[edit: I took some stuff out because it was confusing and not well argued.]

I think the best response anyone can give to Divine Command Theory is to present the Euthyphro dilemma. In my own words, the Euthyphro dilemma is: Does God command things because they are just? Or are things just because God commands them?

The Divine Command Theorist says that things are just because God commands them. But there's a problem here. That makes his deeming of any act immoral arbitrary.

Let's consider an example: God forbids theft and rape. According to DCT, there was nothing wrong with those particular acts before he forbade them. Because the only thing that could possibly MAKE them wrong is his forbiddence. But it doesn't seem that a wise and just god would pick things out of thin air to deem morally wrong. In the case of rape or theft, we can think of many REASONS why it's a good idea to forbid them. But if the REASONS are what makes these things immoral, then God's commands have nothing to do with it.

Did God forbid theft and rape for arbitrary reasons? That's what the Divine Command Theorist says. And furthermore, let's consider a hypothetical where God lifted the ban on rape. I bet many people, many nations, and many Christians would still want to say that there's something wrong with rape. They wouldn't want it done to their family members. They'd want to keep government laws against it in place.

I think theft and rape are wrong. But a commandment from God has nothing to do with this judgment. There are a plethora of reasons these things are wrong, and whether God exists or not, whether God forbids them or not, these things are still morally wrong.

For this reason, a vast majority of educated Christians reject Divine Command Theory. According to them, God's command doesn't make something right or wrong. They say that God is wise, benevolent, and all knowing and therefore he makes his commands for good reasons, and that those reasons are what determines the rightness or wrongness of an act.

I agree with these Christians (and the entirety of atheists) who say "Divine Command Theory is false."
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#7

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-25-2021, 08:38 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: The Divine Command Theorist says that things are just because God commands them. But there's a problem here. That makes his deeming of any act immoral arbitrary.

No it doesn't. He bases commands on his own nature and purposes.
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#8

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-26-2021, 11:53 AM)Percie Wrote:
(07-25-2021, 08:38 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: The Divine Command Theorist says that things are just because God commands them. But there's a problem here. That makes his deeming of any act immoral arbitrary.

No it doesn't. He bases commands on his own nature and purposes.

Well, if God has "purposes" that suggests that there are goals and reasoning involved. Any philosopher who accepts moral realism also has purposes involved in what he determines is correct moral action. A hedonist, for example, wants to increase the happiness of others and reduce their misery and suffering. If God likewise has certain goals... to create what he sees as "a just world" then we're back to examining those reasons, and those reasons are what makes something just or unjust.

I'm leery of discussing God's "nature." It has been used as a highly mobile goal post in other debates I've had. Please state exactly what God's nature is and how this or that aspect of God's nature relates to the topic at hand. If you want to say "God's nature is incomprehensible to us" or something like that, then it follows that you don't understand God's nature. If you don't understand God's nature, then you can't submit it as an argument on your behalf. Likewise, I won't submit "some incomprehensible thing" as an argument on my behalf. It's only fair.
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#9

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-26-2021, 12:47 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Well, if God has "purposes" that suggests that there are goals and reasoning involved. Any philosopher who accepts moral realism also has purposes involved in what he determines is correct moral action. A hedonist, for example, wants to increase the happiness of others and reduce their misery and suffering. If God likewise has certain goals... to create what he sees as "a just world" then we're back to examining those reasons, and those reasons are what makes something just or unjust.

Yes, that applies in some cases.

ETA: Upon rereading, I should clarify that I'm agreeing that God has goals and reasoning that sometimes affect his moral commands. I'm not agreeing that one of those goals was to create "a just world." You'd need to further explain and support that claim.

Quote:I'm leery of discussing God's "nature."

Of course you are. Grounding God's commands in his nature refutes the Euthyphro dilemma.

Quote:It has been used as a highly mobile goal post in other debates I've had. Please state exactly what God's nature is

Oh please, I couldn't exactly state my own nature, let alone that of a god. Neither could you. Yet I presume you accept the statement that we each have a nature.

Quote:and how this or that aspect of God's nature relates to the topic at hand. If you want to say "God's nature is incomprehensible to us" or something like that, then it follows that you don't understand God's nature. If you don't understand God's nature, then you can't submit it as an argument on your behalf.

The specifics of God's nature aren't important at this point. It works for multiple conceptions of god.

Quote:Likewise, I won't submit "some incomprehensible thing" as an argument on my behalf.

You can comprehend of an intelligent being having a nature without knowing every detail of that nature.

Quote:It's only fair.

LOL - is it fair to try to divorce a command from a being's nature and purposes in order to characterize those charges as arbitrary? Do you typically assume that an intelligent being's commands are arbitrary, or is that special pleading?

Is it fair to say you'll go ahead with my definition, only to change it in the next sentence?
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#10

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
Note that I edited my last post. The edit is in bold.
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#11

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-26-2021, 01:47 PM)Percie Wrote: ETA: Upon rereading, I should clarify that I'm agreeing that God has goals and reasoning that sometimes affect his moral commands. I'm not agreeing that one of those goals was to create "a just world." You'd need to further explain and support that claim.

This is a point that I think deserves attention. It may end up being our main focus because I think when it is discussed in a clear (as in not obscured and mystified) way, it becomes plain that the reasons are key in determining if something is moral or not.

Keep in mind, I'm meeting you halfway here. It's not like I'm here saying, "God doesn't exist, so DCT is complete bullshit." Philosophical debates are not like other debates. I'm not trying to win at all costs. I'm trying to test my ideas against your criticisms and (hopefully) get a little closer to the truth in the process. We can both learn from this debate. Plato's Euthyphro is not so much about solving a riddle as it is showing us that issues like these are more difficult to figure out than our first inclination leads us to believe.

There are many intelligent Christians (like Dostoyevsky) who agree with you on the point "if God is dead than all is permitted." Even some atheistic philosophers agree. I just don't understand how that is so.

Quote:
Quote:I'm leery of discussing God's "nature."

Of course you are. Grounding God's commands in his nature refutes the Euthyphro dilemma.

If that was my motivation, it'd be strawmanning on my part. I don't want to artificially weaken your case to "win" the debate. What would that prove? Let's go ahead and explore the "God's nature" thing. I don't need an in depth analysis of God's nature. All I want is a clear explanation of how it is involved in generating moral facts.


Quote:The specifics of God's nature aren't important at this point. It works for multiple conceptions of god.
...
You can comprehend of an intelligent being having a nature without knowing every detail of that nature.

Sure, my mistake. I didn't mean you had to know every detail of "God's nature."

But maybe you could present a syllogism or something clarifying how God's nature is involved. Because it seems like a murky issue to me. I mean, is it clear to you how God's nature is involved? If so, then please enlighten me.

Quote:LOL - is it fair to try to divorce a command from a being's nature and purposes in order to characterize those charges as arbitrary? Do you typically assume that an intelligent being's commands are arbitrary, or is that special pleading?

Look. All I'm saying is: if an intelligent being's commands AREN'T arbitrary THEN THERE ARE REASONS FOR IT. It isn't rocket science. Let's say you are at a buffet that serves fruit cups and cupcakes. If you just pick one on a whim (because either one seems appetizing) THAT is arbitrary. But if you pick the fruit cup because you are trying to watch your weight THAT is a reason. It has to be one or the other. Either a judgment or decision is arbitrary or it's made for a reason. Period.

Quote:Is it fair to say you'll go ahead with my definition, only to change it in the next sentence?

Did I really do that? C'mon man, I've been civil as hell with you.

I found your definition unsatisfying in a particular way, but we're still using yours. I explained what I didn't like about it.

Didn't you see my point? I was hoping you would. I mean... if you don't believe that an act is morally wrong JUST BECAUSE God forbids it, then really, we both agree that Divine Command Theory is false... the debate is settled... and we both win.
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#12

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-26-2021, 05:59 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote:
(07-26-2021, 01:47 PM)Percie Wrote: ETA: Upon rereading, I should clarify that I'm agreeing that God has goals and reasoning that sometimes affect his moral commands. I'm not agreeing that one of those goals was to create "a just world." You'd need to further explain and support that claim.

This is a point that I think deserves attention. It may end up being our main focus because I think when it is discussed in a clear (as in not obscured and mystified) way, it becomes plain that the reasons are key in determining if something is moral or not.

What attention does it need? 

I agree that God at times gives commands based on his purposes, i.e. his specific purposes for a person or people at their point in human history. 

I disagree that God had the goal of creating a just world, as I'm a Christian and can't think of anything to support that claim. You can support it if you like.

Quote:Keep in mind, I'm meeting you halfway here. It's not like I'm here saying, "God doesn't exist, so DCT is complete bullshit."

I figured that, unlike many here, you understand debate better than to do that. Divine command theory presupposes the existence of the divine. You need to accept the existence of god for purposes of this thread, otherwise there's no discussion, as the commands are no longer divine.

Quote:Philosophical debates are not like other debates. I'm not trying to win at all costs. I'm trying to test my ideas against your criticisms and (hopefully) get a little closer to the truth in the process. We can both learn from this debate.

FWIW I think you sprinkle some fallacies in, but I'm not sure if you're aware of it.

Quote:Plato's Euthyphro is not so much about solving a riddle as it is showing us that issues like these are more difficult to figure out than our first inclination leads us to believe.

Yep. It's presented as a choice between A and B. On further examination, there's an option C. It's an interesting subject.

Quote:If that was my motivation, it'd be strawmanning on my part.

Yes, it seemed like strawmanning.

Quote:I don't want to artificially weaken your case to "win" the debate. What would that prove? Let's go ahead and explore the "God's nature" thing. I don't need an in depth analysis of God's nature. All I want is a clear explanation of how it is involved in generating moral facts.

Seriously? It seems so obvious to me I don't understand what your issue is. Consider something you said above. It's in some people's nature to win at all costs. Such people throw logical fallacies into debates freely if they think they can get away with it. It's in your nature (so you say) to debate fairly. So, you try to avoid fallacies. An intelligent being's actions, judgments, commands etc. flow from it's nature.

We can look at commands of god such as marriage, fidelity, and keeping of vows, and conclude that faithfulness is part of god's nature. We can look at the cross and conclude that mercy and grace are part of his nature. You could argue otherwise, but you'd do so by pointing out instances where you feel that god wasn't faithful, or merciful, or gracious, thereby showing that you understand the connection between a being's nature and it's actions/commands.

Quote:Look. All I'm saying is: if an intelligent being's commands AREN'T arbitrary THEN THERE ARE REASONS FOR IT. It isn't rocket science.

Yes, it's a NSS (No Shit, Sherlock) statement. Again, it's the default position to assume that an intelligent being has reasons for it's actions. This is why I can't get very far into philosophy. Too much overthinking.

Quote:Let's say you are at a buffet that serves fruit cups and cupcakes. If you just pick one on a whim (because either one seems appetizing) THAT is arbitrary. But if you pick the fruit cup because you are trying to watch your weight THAT is a reason. It has to be one or the other. Either a judgment or decision is arbitrary or it's made for a reason. Period.

Yep. I've acknowledged reasons - god's nature and his purposes. I don't know why you keep repeating this point on reasons as if I disagree. Actually, I don't know, but I can guess. You may be setting up the argument that it's the reasons, rather than the commands, that make the action moral. That would be missing the forest for the trees. The problem with the Euthyphro choice of god commanding actions because they're good (i.e. for REASONS) is that it sets up some notion of goodness which exists separately from, and superior to, god, which is obviously problematic for the typical Christian conception of God. But, if that notion of goodness resides in the nature of God himself, then that problem disappears. This is the C choice.

Quote:Did I really do that?

Yes. You've also gone well beyond my initial position on DCT from the other thread. It seems you want to debate Euthyphro with someone and I'm somewhere in the vicinity of the ballpark, so you're forcing me into it. But, as I said, this is somewhat interesting so I'm going along.

Quote:C'mon man, I've been civil as hell with you.

One can be civil and unfair.

Quote:Didn't you see my point? I was hoping you would. I mean... if you don't believe that an act is morally wrong JUST BECAUSE God forbids it, then really, we both agree that Divine Command Theory is false... the debate is settled... and we both win.

If JUST BECAUSE means IF AND ONLY IF, then yes, I have to disagree, as God's known commands don't cover every possible moral choice. That's why I made the change.
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#13

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-26-2021, 07:06 PM)Percie Wrote: Yes. You've also gone well beyond my initial position on DCT from the other thread. It seems you want to debate Euthyphro with someone and I'm somewhere in the vicinity of the ballpark, so you're forcing me into it. But, as I said, this is somewhat interesting so I'm going along.

So, this really put me off. In a bad way. Sorry for anyone expecting a timely reply on my part, but I had to step away from the debate and collect my thoughts.

Percie,

I think we need to get a few things straight before we proceed.

You're either here or not here for the debate. I'm not trying to drag anyone into a Euthyphro debate. Ask many people around here. I love debating ethics, for the reasons listed above, it can (potentially) help one or both participants get closer to the truth. But I'm not trying to drag unwilling participants in. If you wanna leave, you know where the door is.

Second: I have a rule on the internet. Don't tell me "I'm committing fallacies," or some shit like that. Tell me what reasoning I provided was fallacious (and how). Or (better yet) tell me how my conclusion does not follow premises. It's no issue. All of us make errors in reasoning.

Anyway, if Percie is down with continuing, and accepts my rule about fallacies, then we can continue.
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#14

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-28-2021, 03:44 AM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Second: I have a rule on the internet. Don't tell me "I'm committing fallacies," or some shit like that. Tell me what reasoning I provided was fallacious (and how). Or (better yet) tell me how my conclusion does not follow premises. It's no issue. All of us make errors in reasoning.

Anyway, if Percie is down with continuing, and accepts my rule about fallacies, then we can continue.

Yes, I'm down with continuing.

Examples of fallacies:

Quote:Did God forbid theft and rape for arbitrary reasons? That's what the Divine Command Theorist says.

No, few if any Divine Command Theorists say that. You infer that. Claiming that DCT proponents actually say that is a straw man.

Quote:For this reason, a vast majority of educated Christians reject Divine Command Theory.

This adds nothing to the conversation. It's either an ad populum or an ambiguous appeal to authority.

These were both pretty mild. You didn't hang your hat on them. That's why I said I don't know if you know that you're making them. But they are there.
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#15

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-26-2021, 07:06 PM)Percie Wrote: If JUST BECAUSE means IF AND ONLY IF, then yes, I have to disagree, as God's known commands don't cover every possible moral choice. That's why I made the change.

JUST BECAUSE *does* mean "if and only if." And that means that (according to the most widely-accepted definition of DCT) you are not a Divine Command Theorist.

That position (the definition provided by Shafer-Landau) is what I think is a false position. And you agree. So, okay.

We could still continue the debate... maybe it could transmogrify into a discussion... about how morality (or rightness, justice, etc.) could exist independently of God's commands. There are plenty of points of contention.
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#16

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 03:00 AM)vulcanlogician Wrote: JUST BECAUSE *does* mean "if and only if." And that means that (according to the most widely-accepted definition of DCT) you are not a Divine Command Theorist.

That position (the definition provided by Shafer-Landau) is what I think is a false position. And you agree. So, okay.

I wouldn't go so far as false. It does need some tweaking though. The word command is problematic. If I were you, and I had a Christian arguing DCT and accepting if and only if, I wouldn't go to Euthyphro, I'd simply point out that he can't find abortion to be immoral, because the Bible has no specific command on the subject. Reasonable arguments against abortion can be derived from the Bible, but there's not a command.

If you're open to a modification, we can continue.
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#17

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 10:11 AM)Percie Wrote:
(07-29-2021, 03:00 AM)vulcanlogician Wrote: JUST BECAUSE *does* mean "if and only if." And that means that (according to the most widely-accepted definition of DCT) you are not a Divine Command Theorist.

That position (the definition provided by Shafer-Landau) is what I think is a false position. And you agree. So, okay.

I wouldn't go so far as false. It does need some tweaking though. The word command is problematic. If I were you, and I had a Christian arguing DCT and accepting if and only if, I wouldn't go to Euthyphro, I'd simply point out that he can't find abortion to be immoral, because the Bible has no specific command on the subject. Reasonable arguments against abortion can be derived from the Bible, but there's not a command.

If you're open to a modification, we can continue.

Even Shafer-Landau's definition doesn't necessitate that it be a direct command. You can infer some things are wrong and it's still DCT. The important thing is: moral rightness or wrongness only comes from God's imperatives. The DCT theorist doesn't think you can arrive at moral facts any other way.

Also, it turns out an atheist can accept DCT. But that would mean they are a moral nihilist. (ie. morality can only come from a god, but since there are no gods, morality is a fairytale.) I am not a moral nihilist. I think that a rational person can reach moral conclusions "ie. there is something wrong with this act" without appealing to a higher being. And furthermore, even if a god existed, this would have no bearing on what is right or wrong.

So, let me ask you this: In a godless world, could objective moral truths exist?
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#18

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 04:19 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Even Shafer-Landau's definition doesn't necessitate that it be a direct command. You can infer some things are wrong and it's still DCT. The important thing is: moral rightness or wrongness only comes from God's imperatives.

OK, with that revision, I'm still in the DCT camp, and I think what I've said refutes Euthyphro.

Quote:The DCT theorist doesn't think you can arrive at moral facts any other way.

Also, it turns out an atheist can accept DCT. But that would mean they are a moral nihilist. (ie. morality can only come from a god, but since there are no gods, morality is a fairytale.) I am not a moral nihilist. I think that a rational person can reach moral conclusions "ie. there is something wrong with this act" without appealing to a higher being. And furthermore, even if a god existed, this would have no bearing on what is right or wrong.

So, let me ask you this: In a godless world, could objective moral truths exist?

Top of my head I'd say no, but you should define objective moral truth first.
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#19

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 04:32 PM)Percie Wrote: Top of my head I'd say no, but you should define objective moral truth first.

I'll let Google do some work for me.

Quote:Morality is objective. That is, moral claims are true or false about aspects of human interaction that involve the ideas of rights and obligations. Further, the fundamental moral maxims apply universally, and reasonable people can agree on their truth.

So I can say something like "theft is immoral." But notice that the definition (which I like) says "fundamental" moral maxims apply. If someone is out in the woods starving and happens upon a cabin, it might be permissible for them to break in and steal some food, for instance. The moral prohibition against theft might be based on another foundational principle, and that principle (perhaps reduction of suffering) also dictates that it is morally permissible to steal food when in dire straits.

(Even though we disagree on the source of moral truths, you and I are both moral objectivists.)

***

Also notice that we haven't revised DCT. The original definition allows for inference of moral commands. The principle issue is that God (and his wishes... or his purposes) is the only thing that can determine the moral rightness or wrongness of something. All that is baked in to the original definition I gave in the OP.

And, while we are clearing things up:

(07-28-2021, 12:29 PM)Percie Wrote: No, few if any Divine Command Theorists say that. You infer that. Claiming that DCT proponents actually say that is a straw man.

The word "say" here is a stand-in for "infer." The important bit is: anyone who accepts DCT also must concede to the arbitrariness involved in saying "whatever this being says is wrong is wrong."

Look at it this way. If God poked his head out of the clouds and said, "I forbid wearing yellow sweaters on Saturday." The DCT theorist would say, "Wearing yellow sweaters on Saturday is now morally wrong." Same applies if the prohibition on yellow sweaters made its way onto the stone tablets. DCT theorist says: whatever is on those stone tablets is moral law, no matter if there is reason to believe otherwise.

Further clarifications-

(07-28-2021, 12:29 PM)Percie Wrote:
vulcanlogician Wrote:For this reason, a vast majority of educated Christians reject Divine Command Theory.

This adds nothing to the conversation. It's either an ad populum or an ambiguous appeal to authority.

These were both pretty mild. You didn't hang your hat on them. That's why I said I don't know if you know that you're making them. But they are there.

Be mindful of what conclusions I'm drawing. It is perfectly fine (and logical) to state relevant facts in a debate. For instance, it is a fact that many educated Christians reject DCT. (You may have a point that it doesn't add anything to this debate. But I think it's still relevant.)

What would be illogical would be for me to say: "Most educated Christians reject DCT, therefore DCT is false." That would indeed be an argumentum ad populum.

Keep in mind that while I have responses to your accusations of fallacious reasoning, I am very happy with the way you presented those accusations. If we both keep to the way you criticized my logic in your post, it has a good chance of being a substantive debate.
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#20

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 05:51 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: I'll let Google do some work for me.

Quote:Morality is objective. That is, moral claims are true or false about aspects of human interaction that involve the ideas of rights and obligations. Further, the fundamental moral maxims apply universally, and reasonable people can agree on their truth.

So I can say something like "theft is immoral." But notice that the definition (which I like) says "fundamental" moral maxims apply. If someone is out in the woods starving and happens upon a cabin, it might be permissible for them to break in and steal some food, for instance. The moral prohibition against theft might be based on another foundational principle, and that principle (perhaps reduction of suffering) also dictates that it is morally permissible to steal food when in dire straits.

No, such moral truths don't exist aside from god.

Quote:Also notice that we haven't revised DCT. The original definition allows for inference of moral commands. The principle issue is that God (and his wishes... or his purposes) is the only thing that can determine the moral rightness or wrongness of something. All that is baked in to the original definition I gave in the OP.

And, while we are clearing things up:

(07-28-2021, 12:29 PM)Percie Wrote: No, few if any Divine Command Theorists say that. You infer that. Claiming that DCT proponents actually say that is a straw man.

The word "say" here is a stand-in for "infer." The important bit is: anyone who accepts DCT also must concede to the arbitrariness involved in saying "whatever this being says is wrong is wrong."


I've already noted that such commands aren't arbitrary.
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#21

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 06:26 PM)Percie Wrote: I've already noted that such commands aren't arbitrary.

This is what I mean by arbitrary:

"based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system" (google definition). What I'm focusing on here is "rather than any reason."

You said before that God may have reasons. My reply to that is: then the REASONS make the thing morally wrong. If he doesn't have reasons, then it is by definition arbitrary. It's an either/or proposition.

I did want to reinforce that earlier point. Because you missed that earlier in the debate. It is by necessity arbitrary if it is not based on reason. This is why opponents to the Euthyphro dilemma resort to the "God's nature" argument. I would like to get your agreement on this (either abitray or reasoned) before we (inevitably) proceed to the "God's nature" argument.

***

As to the God's nature argument, I've done some thinking about it since you last brought it up. And I think I can try to be charitable with the notion.

One example that springs to mind is: a dog. When you get home from work, after an exhausting day, and your dog happily greets you, the dog's love can afford you some relief from the grievances of the day. We might say that that "goodness" flows from the nature of the dog itself and is not necessarily dependant on a rational decision by the dog to bring you comfort. It's simply in the nature of the dog to do this. The same could be said of "good naturedness" in humans (we all know people who have goodness in their natures without necessarily resorting to logic), but I selected an animal because it demonstrates it in a being less capable of rationality.

That's me trying to put the notion charitably. Are we in agreement about nature here? Or is the dog example bad?
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#22

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-29-2021, 07:05 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: This is what I mean by arbitrary:

"based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system" (google definition). What I'm focusing on here is "rather than any reason."

You said before that God may have reasons. My reply to that is: then the REASONS make the thing morally wrong. If he doesn't have reasons, then it is by definition arbitrary. It's an either/or proposition.

I did want to reinforce that earlier point. Because you missed that earlier in the debate. It is by necessity arbitrary if it is not based on reason. This is why opponents to the Euthyphro dilemma resort to the "God's nature" argument. I would like to get your agreement on this (either abitray or reasoned) before we (inevitably) proceed to the "God's nature" argument.

I didn't miss the point. It's incorrect. You have a false dichotomy. For example, when faced with a choice between work and play, I consistently tend toward play. There are a lot of chores to be done, but I'm playing Fortnite. My choice isn't random. It isn't based on personal whim (a sudden desire or change of mind, especially one that is unusual or unexplained, per google) or reason (logically I'd rather choose to do the chores), or system. It's just my nature. My brother is the complete opposite. He consistently chooses the chores over play.

Quote:As to the God's nature argument, I've done some thinking about it since you last brought it up. And I think I can try to be charitable with the notion.

One example that springs to mind is: a dog. When you get home from work, after an exhausting day, and your dog happily greets you, the dog's love can afford you some relief from the grievances of the day. We might say that that "goodness" flows from the nature of the dog itself and is not necessarily dependant on a rational decision by the dog to bring you comfort. It's simply in the nature of the dog to do this. The same could be said of "good naturedness" in humans (we all know people who have goodness in their natures without necessarily resorting to logic), but I selected an animal because it demonstrates it in a being less capable of rationality.

That's me trying to put the notion charitably. Are we in agreement about nature here? Or is the dog example bad?

See above, we can work with that example.
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#23

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
Here's another example. Suppose I have this conversation with a trans person here:

P: Why are you getting gender affirming surgery?
T: Because I'm trans.
P: Well yeah, but that's a tautology. What are the reasons you're trans?
T: There aren't really reasons, it's just who I am.
P: Oh, so it's an arbitrary choice, since it's not based on reason.

I'm pretty sure people would tear me a new one.
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#24

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-30-2021, 11:43 AM)Percie Wrote: Here's another example. Suppose I have this conversation with a trans person here:

P: Why are you getting gender affirming surgery?
T: Because I'm trans.
P: Well yeah, but that's a tautology. What are the reasons you're trans?
T: There aren't really reasons, it's just who I am.
P: Oh, so it's an arbitrary choice, since it's not based on reason.

I'm pretty sure people would tear me a new one.

Yeah. People are going to take issue with the word choice (not the word arbitrary).

My frikkin' anti-virus software erased my last post. It was a discussion about the nature argument. Long story short, I reject your chores/video games example for the reasons I've already stated. Not rational = arbitrary. Going with your impulses is identical with "choosing on a whim." I don't want to beat the dead horse any longer.

Anyway, let's defer to a great thinker to make the point on your behalf. (Much like I did with Plato earlier.) Below is a link to an article that presents Augustine's criticisms of the Euthyphro dilemma. It argues your thesis. It takes about 5 or so minutes to read. Why don't you check it out and let me know if it's a good jumping off point to carry our discussion further?

https://medium.com/the-liturgical-legion...0e940d5d51
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#25

Ethics: Divine Command Theory
(07-31-2021, 06:09 PM)vulcanlogician Wrote: Yeah. People are going to take issue with the word choice (not the word arbitrary).

My frikkin' anti-virus software erased my last post. It was a discussion about the nature argument. Long story short, I reject your chores/video games example for the reasons I've already stated. Not rational = arbitrary. Going with your impulses is identical with "choosing on a whim." I don't want to beat the dead horse any longer.

This horse is far from dead. I'd say it's galloping happily across the plains.

Quote:This is what I mean by arbitrary:

"based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system" (google definition).

I don't choose games over chores randomly.

A whim per google is again "a sudden desire or change of mind, especially one that is unusual or unexplained." This behavior is very consistent with me - it's generally not sudden, or a change of mind, and it's certainly not unusual. So, this doesn't fall under whim.

Logically I want to do the chores, so I'm not playing games due to reasoning or a system. 

So, it's neither rational nor arbitrary. 

You have not addressed this. You can't wave it away by calling it a dead horse. You're pushing a false dichotomy. There's a choice C.

And you dodged the transgender issue. In your rational/arbitrary dichotomy, is the choice to have surgery arbitrary or rational? If rational, what are the reasons?

Quote:Anyway, let's defer to a great thinker to make the point on your behalf.

No thanks. Quoting others if you feel it helps make a point is fine, but I'm here to discuss this with you, not to toss articles back and forth.
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