Ethics Lecture 11 Introduction to Ethics Philosophy 108 Spring Term 2009 Professor Holly Smith Julian Schnorr von Carolsfeld: Moses Receiving the Ten Commandments Lecture outline The Divine Command Theory ? The Euthyphro dilemma ? 3 ways morality might depend on religion ? Way 3: religion provides morality?s foundation ? Statement of the Divine Command theory on the foundation of morality ? Arguments for and against the DC theory ? The Divine Responsiveness theory ? More on the other possible links between morality and religion Prior topics in course ? Up until now we have focused on moral theories that articulate the content of morality ? what kinds of acts are right and wrong, what kinds of things are valuable ? AU: acts that maximize happiness are right ? Ross: acts that fulfill PF duties are right ? AU: happiness/welfare is good, pain/suffering are bad ? Now we?ll look at what makes a moral theory true or correct 2 Our question: Is morality based on God?s commands, or is it independent of religion? ? The Divine Command theory of morality states that morality is based on God?s commands ? It is an example of a moral theory that bases morality on authoritative source external to us: in this case, God Student survey ? Morality is given to us by God, and we are obligated to do what God commands ? 23% agreed ? 77% disagreed ? Either morality comes from God, or there are no moral rules binding on us ? 37% agreed ? 63% disagreed Does morality depend on religion? ? Sen. Lieberman & George Washington: never indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion ? Strongly held view by many that morality does depend on religion ? Certain kinds of debates in US reveal deep fear that morality and social order will break down if religion is attacked or undermined ? Worry that no reason for people to carry out their obligations or set aside self-interest if they lose their belief in God 3 Possible links between morality and religion 1)To know the content of morality we have to rely on information that can only be provided by religion 2)The only motivation we have to follow moral requirements is one that comes from religion 3)The justification or foundation of morality is provided by religion 1) Knowledge of content of morality ? God, or religious authorities, have special insight into moral truths that ordinary people lack ? We must turn to them to know the content of morality The content of morality ? Rules for behavior ? Do not kill; Be merciful; Turn the other cheek; Pray five times a day; Give alms ? Characteristics of a good person ? Loving; Charitable; Just; Loyal ? Other moral insights ? Each human being has infinite value ? All human beings have equal value 4 How else could we discover these? ? Science provides a great deal of information ? It tells us important things about people ? They share a great deal of their DNA ? They die if go without liquid for 2 weeks ? They form hierarchical social groups ? Science cannot tell us what people ought to do or ought to be like ? The claim: without religion, we could not know what is right and good How else could we discover the content of morality? ? Science and religion aren?t the only sources of knowledge? ? There is also philosophy Possible links between morality and religion 1)To know the content of morality we have to rely on information that can only be provided by religion 2)The only motivations we have to follow moral requirements are ones that come from religion 5 2) The only motivations we have to follow moral requirements are ones that come from religion What are possible motivations or reasons to follow moral requirements that come from religion? Possible links between morality and religion 1)To know the content of morality we have to rely on information that can only be provided by religion 2)The only reason we have to follow moral requirements is one that comes from religion - we?ll come back to these ideas 3)The justification or foundation of morality is provided by religion 3)The justification or foundation of morality is provided by religion ? This is the focus of the Euthyphro Dilemma ? Consider a parallel set of questions: 1) How do we know what the content of a NJ law is? 2) What motive to we have to obey a NJ law? 3) What makes a NJ law legitimate or justified? 6 New Jersey speed limit law 1) How do we know what the content of a NJ law is? ? We look it up in the statute book and find that the maximum highway speed is 65 MPH 2) What motive to we have to obey this law? ? If we disobey and are caught, we?ll pay a fine, or have license suspended, or go to jail, and pay higher insurance premium New Jersey speed limit law 3) What makes something a legitimate NJ law? ? What if California Gov. Schwartzenegger declared that the maximum speed limit in NJ is 55 MPH ? would this make it true? ? Short story: the current speeding law is legitimate because it was passed by a duly elected legislature in a just democratic system, and not overturned by Supreme Court Our question ? What makes something a legitimate moral rule? 7 Plato?s Euthyphro ? Focuses on the question of piety or reverence and its relationship to morality ? The character Euthyphro ? A well-known religious crank ? Brought up own father on murder charge; Euthyphro claims his act is pious ? Socrates has been charged by others with impiety: disbelieving the true religion ? For Euthyphro?s father and Socrates, a life or death matter how impiety is understood How define ?piety?? ? Euthyphro: ?An act is pious if it is loved by a god? ? Socrates: But there are many gods, and what one god loves another may hate ? So on this definition, an act could be both pious and impious (a contradiction) A revised definition of ?piety? ? Euthyphro: ?An act is pious if it is loved by all the gods? ? Socrates? next question: ?Is the act pious because it is loved by the gods, or is it loved by the gods because it is pious?? ? This is the ?Euthyphro dilemma? ? Foundation for philosophical and theological debate ever since ? Clear that Socrates favors the second option 8 3) The justification or foundation of morality is provided by religion ? The Divine Command (DC) theory: An action is morally obligatory because God commands us to perform that action ? God?s commanding us to honor our parents, observe the Sabbath, etc., is what makes these acts morally right The DC theory is widely accepted Moses receiving the Ten Commandments from God ?Youth With a Mission? website soliciting aid to their projects: ?Why should we give? We should give because God commands it? But it has problems ? the Euthyphro Dilemma ? More precise statement of DC theory: (RC) An act A is obligatory if and only if God commands that we do A An act A is wrong if and only if God commands that we not do A (V) Something S is good if and only if God approves of S Something S is bad if and only if God disapproves of S 9 Why should we accept the DC theory? What makes it attractive? Possible reasons to accept DCT 1) Its truth is revealed by scripture 2) God?s commands are the only possible authoritative source for morality ? But we haven?t looked at other possible sources yet 3) The DC provides a universal morality with the same obligations for everyone ? Maybe other moral theories will also ? Maybe the DC theory doesn?t! ?Wives, be subject to your husbands? (Ephesians 5: 22) ?Husbands, love your wives? (Ephesians 5:25) 10 Why should we accept the DC theory? 4) God?s nature is such that he and only he could be the source for morality ? What is God?s nature? G1) God is all-powerful and the creator of everything (except himself) G2) All God?s acts are done for a reason and with complete wisdom G3) God is perfectly morally good because he is all-just, all-benevolent, all-loving, allmerciful, and etc. Why should we accept the DC theory? ? Since God has these characteristics, out of his wisdom and goodness he creates morality and commands us to follow its precepts so that we can conduct ourselves in an appropriate way But the DC is inconsistent with these assumptions about God?s nature! 1) First argument: Why does God command us to do one kind of act rather than another? How did he select the acts to be commanded and the acts to be forbidden? 11 How does God select which acts to command? ? According to G1, God has a reason for commanding us to not to eat pork rather than not to eat lamb, and he has a reason to forbid us to kill rather than forbidding us to preserve life What is God?s reason for commanding us to perform some acts but not others? ? The reason can?t be that eating pork or killing is morally wrong, because (on the DCT) these acts aren?t wrong wrong until he forbids them ? Any other reason looks irrelevant So God?s commands are arbitrary ? God could have commanded us to kill and to avoid eating lamb, instead of commanding us to not to kill and not to eat pork ? the content of morality is arbitrary ? But God?s issuing arbitrary commands contradicts G2, which says that God always acts for a reason 12 Could God have had any other reason to command A not B? ? Maybe God?s aim in giving us moral commands is to give us the opportunity to demonstrate obedience to him ? But why is obedience right?? ? Maybe God?s aim in giving us a certain moral code is that humanity will be happier if we all follow it ? But why is happiness good?? ? These look arbitrary also 2nd argument that the DC is inconsistent with the assumptions about God?s nature ? G3 says that God is morally good because he is all-just, all-loving, etc. ? But the DC says that something is good if and only if God approves of it. ? So God is good because he approves of himself, not because he is all-just and allloving. ? So if the DC is true, G3 must be false ? Of course, God could approve of being all-just, all-loving, etc. ? But what would be his reason for approving of these characteristics rather than approving of being unjust, cruel, and hateful? ? His reason can?t be that they are good, since they aren?t good until he approves of them ? Any other reason seems irrelevant ? So once again, God?s approval appears arbitrary (contra G2, which says he always has a reason) 13 Our progress so far ? The argument for the DC theory rests on 3 assumptions about God?s nature G1) God creates everything G2) God does everything for a reason G3) God is morally good because he has F, G,.. ? But we can now see that the DC theory is inconsistent with G2 and G3, and that the content of morality seems to be arbitrary One alternative ? Reject the DC theory, and adopt the Divine Responsiveness Theory (DRT) ? The DRT says that God commands A and approves of Q because A is right and Q is good ? God responds to the moral nature of the universe, and so he acts with a reason ? Thus G2 is preserved, and morality is not arbitrary But now we have a new problem ? If God commands us not to kill because killing is wrong, then G1 is false, since it says that God creates everything ? including morality ? If killing is wrong, independently of God?s forbidding it, then God doesn?t create right and wrong ? and morality is independent of religion ? So once again we can?t preserve our account of God?s nature ? G1, G2, and G3 14 Reflecting on the nature and source of moral authority seems to show that we must give up some key attribute of God ? either G1, or G2 & G3 ? This is the Euthyphro Dilemma Timmons? ?way out? ? Timmons suggests one way to rescue the DCT: weaken G1 by limiting God?s power ? G1) God is all-powerful and the creator of everything ? Admit that God has some limits: it is a necessary truth that 2 + 2 = 4, and God can?t change this ? Similarly it is a necessary truth that it is wrong to cause pain for any creature that feels pain ? God retains some control: he could have made humans so we cannot feel pain ? But given that he created us to feel pain, he cannot change the moral fact that it is wrong to cause us to feel pain ? This seems like it is giving up a lot of God?s powers ? morality is independent of God and religion 15 Possible links between morality and religion 1)To know the content of morality we have to rely on information that can only be provided by religion 2)The only motivation we have to follow moral requirements is one that comes from religion 3)The justification or foundation of morality is provided by religion We?ve been looking at 3); The Divine Command theory is a theory about the foundation of morality ? But what about the other links? How about 2) ? the claim that the only motive we have to follow moral requirements is one that comes from religion? ? Earlier we looked at the religious motives we might have to obey morality Religious reasons we have to follow moral requirements 1) Our only motive to follow morality is fear of eternal damnation or hope of eternal bliss 2) Our only reason to follow morality is that God created us and so has the right to prescribe our conduct 3) We admire God and wish to emulate him 4) We love God and wish to do as he wants 16 Mortimer argues for 2) - God created us and so has the right to prescribe our conduct Analogies: ?An artist might say ?I created my painting and so have the right to change it or even to destroy it? ? Parents used to say ?I created my child; he owes his life to me, so I have the right to tell him what to do or to be, and even to kill him? Contemporary re-enactment of Abraham?s sacrifice of Isaac God is even more deeply our creator than the artist or parent ? But we no longer believe that parents have absolute rights over children, just because they created their children ? Especially (for commands on behavior) once the child reaches the age of judgment ? So why think that God has such a right, just because he created human beings? ? Connected question: If I clone myself, do I acquire the right to tell my clone what to do?? 17 ? If there is such a right, where did it come from? ? The DCT: God created this right by commanding it to exist ? But we?ve seen serious problems with the DCT ? God discerns an independently existing right and asserts it to us ? But we need to hear a compelling reason why X?s creating Y gives X the right to order Y around ? The argument that God?s creating us gives us a reason to follow morality is problematic Let?s look at 4) We love God and therefore wish to do as he wants ? It?s true that we normally wish to do what someone we love wants us to ? For example, if your wife is pregnant and has a sudden desire for ice cream and pickles at 2:00 AM, you want to run out and buy them for her 4) We love God and therefore wish to do as he wants A) We normally want to do what someone we love wants because we care about their welfare and want to enhance it ? If your wife wants ice cream & pickles, maybe she needs their special nutrition ? Anyway it will make her happy ? But nothing we can do will enhance God?s welfare or make God happy ? he is unchanging, and not affected by our acts 18 4) We love God and therefore wish to do as he wants B) We do what our loved one wants in order to elicit that person?s approval ? This seems like a selfish motive to do what God wants C) We do what our loved one wants in order to retain his/her love ? This, too, seems like a selfish motive to do what God wants ? In the end, we should do what?s morally right just because it?s morally required, not for some ulterior motive We?ve explored possible links between morality and religion 1)To know the content of morality we have to rely on information that can only be provided by religion 2)The only reason we have to follow moral requirements is one that comes from religion 3)The justification or foundation of morality is provided by religion ? The Divine Command theory attempts to provide a foundation or justification for morality ? We saw that the theory has deep problems ? The appeal to God?s creating us attempts to provide a reason for us to follow his commands ? But this appeal has deep problems as well ? The appeal to our desire to do what someone we love wants has problems ? It remains to be shown that there is a crucial link between morality and religion 19 Next lecture ? Is what is right in one culture, wrong in another culture? Is morality culturally relative? Funeral pyre, India Zoroastrian ?tower of silence? where vultures consume the dead
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