Divine Command Theory

Authored by: Hannes Möhle

The Routledge Companion to Medieval Philosophy

Print publication date:  January  2021
Online publication date:  January  2021

Print ISBN: 9780415658270
eBook ISBN: 9781315709604
Adobe ISBN:


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The essence of divine command theory is the claim that God’s command is the ultimate source of moral obligation. Furthermore being in accordance with the divine commands is the prerequisite for something to be classified as morally good. Within such an interpretation of the theory the assumption of intrinsic goods or the rational determination of the divine commands is not called into question. Yet in a narrower sense, the requirements of a divine command theory are only met if the divine will is considered as a source of moral obligations measuring morality independent of the intrinsic value of possible actions. To emphasize it: obligations are obligations not because they are based on what is good; they are obligations because of God’s command, and as God’s commands they are good. In this refined interpretation, divine command ethics and theological voluntarism are equalized.

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