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Worship and threshold obligations



In this reply to Tim Bayne and Yujin Nagasawa, I defend the possibility of a maximal-excellence account of the grounding of the obligation to worship God. I do not offer my own account of the obligation to worship God; rather I argue that the major criticism (that is raised against maximal-excellence accounts) fails. Thus maximal-excellence can ground an obligation to worship God.


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1. Bayne, Tim & Nagasawa, Yujin‘The grounds of worship’, Religious Studies, 42 (2006), 299313.

2. Ibid., 312.

3. Crowe, Benjamin D.Reasons for worship: a response to Bayne and Nagasawa’, Religious Studies, 43 (2007), 465474; Bayne, Tim & Nagasawa, Yujin‘The grounds of worship again: reply to Crowe’, Religious Studies, 43 (2007), 475480.

4. Bayne & Nagasawa ‘The grounds of worship again’, 477.

5. Though once the obligation is present (on), it could certainly come in degrees, and so it may be more accurate to say that TOs act in a hybrid fashion, that is, both digitally and continuously.

6. A third, and very contentious example, might be affirmative action. Assuming that affirmative action can justly operate on a group level, and assuming that past wrongs are what justifies affirmative action, it might be the case that the past wrongs must rise to a certain level to generate an obligation to some form of affirmative action. That is, it may be the case that groups that were only slightly wronged in the past do not deserve slight affirmative action policies, but rather none at all. The point is that the obligation to affirmative action may be a TO with respect to past wrongs. Again however, I recognize that this is a very contentious example, with a host of issues that will not be addressed in this paper.

7. Bayne & Nagasawa ‘The grounds of worship’, 300.

8. Though worship would replace awe. I discussed awe to illustrate one simple example as to why worship is a threshold obligation, namely: because awe is not present to the left of T, worship cannot be present of the left of T. But again, certainly awe is not sufficient for worship.

9. Note that the picture may be more complicated, in that the being identical to God but knowing one less proposition may be greater than any finite being, and still far less than, or not comparable to, God. That is, we may need other sections in the picture. But the important point is that God is alone on the right, and the sole being to the right of T.

10. Crowe ‘Reasons for worship’, 472.

11. Bayne & Nagasawa ‘The grounds of worship’, 306.

12. Crowe ‘Reasons for worship’, 468.

13. Bayne & Nagasawa ‘The grounds of worship again’, 478.

14. One last point: the authors considered whether we would be obligated to worship a duplicate of God, asking, ‘would [it] be obligatory to worship God*, if, per impossible, God* were actual[?]’; Bayne & Nagasawa ‘The grounds of worship’, 308. I admit that I have little idea how to reason in such a per impossible setting. Perhaps compare: if, per impossible, 2+2=5 and 2+2=4, would it be rational to trade 2 doughnuts and 2 doughnuts for 5 doughnuts? In these per impossible settings, I have trouble beginning to reason.

15. Finally, I thank an anonymous referee for the journal and Professor Peter Byrne for valuable feedback and suggestions.


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