Religious Studies

Articles

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

WES MORRISTONa1

a1 Department of Philosophy, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309-0232 e-mail: wes.morriston@colorado.edu

Abstract

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.