Thanks for the exchange, David.

I don’t think I’m fully tracking some of your concerns.

I had a hard time making sense of this paragraph: “To say that God does not command the good because it is good or that something is good because he commanded it but rather that God commands something because he is good makes the argument “If God does not exist, then God’s values and duties do not exist. God’s values and duties exist. Therefore, God exists.” i.e. begging the question.

I don’t know that the above paragraph is that important, though, because this next one conveys a thought that I think you’re driving at.

You write: “What I am trying to say is that the response doesn’t really answer the question. Is God’s nature good from some objective standard or is good defined by God’s nature? If the first, than what is good (or moral) must have a foundation aside from God and if the latter then the good (or moral) is subject to God’s nature.

The move from having God’s nature, rather than God’s commands, provide the metaphysical grounding for morality solves a really important problem. Go back to the ED’s abandoned horn, which offered that God commands actions because they are right. Under this idea, God had reasons for his decisions: he commanded actions a, b, and c because he recognized that those actions had morally positive qualities. But the other horn, the one that said actions become right in virtue of God commanding them, could not facilitate God choosing actions for reasons, since doing so would introduce an independent moral order. So instead it gave us a picture of moral arbitrariness: God commanded antecedently morally neutral actions and thereby gave them a moral flavor, but why he chose the ones he chose is unclear, and it could easily have gone differently.

But now, by introducing his own essence as the grounding agent, his commands are imbued with a rationality that the Euthyphro Dilemma did not account for. The horn that had morality, in effect, created by a command now has its arbitrariness challenge blunted by the character of God constituting morality, with the commands merely corresponding to this newly introduced metaphysical ground. The arbitrariness is gone.

This is an important point, so I’ll develop it slightly more. The arbitrariness that made us wonder, “But, if God’s commands create morality, then he could have commanded a totally different set of commands,” has now given way to a a new kind of metaphysical stability, a metaphysical fixity, whereby it is not possible, according to the Christian conception of God, that God could have given a substantively different set of commands. If the Christian conception is right, then God necessarily has the nature he has, which means it wouldn’t have changed his moral code across different creation-iterations, or worlds.

So this move sweeps away the arbitrariness challenge, which is universally held to be the main difficulty with this horn.

You write: “In my opinion it could be a reasonable account for morality, I just don’t see how it could be for objective morality.

It could be that we’re working with different conceptions of objectivity. I’ve defined an objective claim, in this and other pieces, as a claim whose truth value does not depend on what any or all human beings think or how they feel about it. An objectively true claim is made true by reality, irrespective of what you, me, or anyone else thinks about it or how we feel about it. Its truthmaker is mind-independent.

But notice that, under my definition, Divine Command Theory satisfies this condition. If God hands the tablets to Moses, and we all look at them and say: “Nope, disagree with all of these,” it really makes no difference to their rightness that we disagree. God issues commands and prohibitions and our agreement or disagreement, or our happiness or unhappiness with them is of no metaphysical consequence. (We’re assuming that DCT is true in this scenario, of course.)

If you have a different understanding of objectivity, we could look at that. I have in mind a criticism that I thought you were making, which is why I wrote what I wrote in the last reply, but it turned out you were making a different point. But my last reply has more to say about the very intelligibility, the very epistemic graspability of what constitutes objectivity.

Editor in Chief of Arc Digital

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store