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What if God commanded something terrible? A worry for divine-command meta-ethics


If God commanded something that was obviously evil, would we have a moral obligation to do it? I critically examine three radically different approaches divine-command theorists may take to the problem posed by this question: (1) reject the possibility of such a command by appealing to God's essential goodness; (2) avoid the implication that we should obey such a command by modifying the divine-command theory; and (3) accept the implication that we should obey such a command by appealing to divine transcendence and mystery. I show that each approach faces significant challenges, and that none is completely satisfying.

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Edward Wierenga A defensible divine command theory’, NoÛs, 17 (1983), 387487.

T. J. Mawson Omnipotence and necessary moral perfection are compatible: a reply to Morriston’, Religious Studies, 38 (2002), 215223

James D. Rissler A psychological constraint on obedience to God's commands: the reasonableness of obeying the abhorrently evil’, Religious Studies, 38 (2002), 125146, 141.

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Religious Studies
  • ISSN: 0034-4125
  • EISSN: 1469-901X
  • URL: /core/journals/religious-studies
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