Religious Studies

Articles

Counterpossibles and the ‘terrible’ divine command deity

RICHARD BRIAN DAVISa1 and W. PAUL FRANKSa2

a1 Department of Philosophy, Tyndale University College, Toronto, Ontario M2M 4B3, Canada e-mail: rdavis@tyndale.ca

a2 Department of Philosophy, Tyndale University College, Toronto, Ontario M2M 4B3, Canada e-mail: pfranks@tyndale.ca

Abstract

In a series of articles in this journal, Wes Morriston has launched what can only be considered a full-scale assault on the divine command theory (DCT) of morality. According to Morriston, proponents of this theory are committed to an alarming counterpossible: that if God did command an annual human sacrifice, it would be morally obligatory. Since only a ‘terrible’ deity would do such a ‘terrible’ thing, we should reject DCT. Indeed, if there were such a deity, the world would be a terrible place – certainly far worse than it is. We argue that Morriston's non-standard method for assessing counterpossibles of this sort is flawed. Not only is the savvy DCT-ist at liberty to reject it, but Morriston's method badly misfires in the face of theistic activism – a metaphysical platform available to DCT-ists, according to which if God didn't exist, neither would anything else.