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Morality and Religion

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Morality and Religion. Outline. Introduction: To what extent is religion a basis for morality?. The Divine Command Theory. The Natural Law Theory. Conclusion: Religion and Morality. Outline. Introduction: To what extent is religion a basis for morality?. The Divine Command Theory.

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Presentation Transcript
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Outline

Introduction: To what extent is religion a basis for morality?

The Divine Command Theory

The Natural Law Theory

Conclusion: Religion and Morality

slide3
Outline

Introduction: To what extent is religion a basis for morality?

The Divine Command Theory

The Natural Law Theory

Conclusion: Religion and Morality

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Introduction

Religion as a foundation of morality

Our problem:Moral truths

1. Are there such things as moral truths?

2. How do we know them and what is their content?

One answer:Religion

1. Yes: God’s law

- As God’s creation, the world is in order – God’s law.

- Human beings and their acts are part of such order.

- Humans beings ought to follow the moral law in their actions.

2. We must find out God’s law.

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Introduction

Morality and Religion

The problem:

- Not all religious people act morally – religion not sufficient for moral behavior

- Not all non-religious people act immorally – religion not necessary

 The relationships between morality and religion are more complex than expected

 Our question: to what extent can religion be a foundation for morality?

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Outline

Introduction

The Divine Command Theory

The Natural Law Theory

Conclusion: Religion and Morality

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The Divine Command Theory

The Divine Command Theory (DCT):

The Divine Command Theory is the view on morality that what is right is whatever God commands.

This gives answers to our questions:

1. Are there such things as moral truths?

Yes, God’s law

2. How do we know them and what is their content?

We know them through religion, and their content are whatever our religion says it is.

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The Problem with the DCT:

Socrates’ question

Socrates’ question about the definition of “what is holy”:

Euthyphro: what is holy is whatever is loved by the gods

Socrates: is it holy because it is loved by the gods or is it loved by the gods because it is holy?

Socrates’ answer: it is loved by the gods because it is holy – not the other way.

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The Problem with the DCT:

Understanding Socrates’ question

Socrates’ question about the definition of “what is a great hike”:

Euthyphro: what is a great hike is whatever is loved by the Montanans.

Socrates: is it a great hike because it is loved by the Montanans or is it loved by the Montanans because it is a great hike?

Socrates’ answer: it is loved by the Montanans because it is a great hike– not the other way around.

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The Problem with the DCT:

Socrates’ question applied to the DCT

Socrates’ question about the definition of “what is right”:

Euthyphro: what is right is whatever is whatever God commands

Socrates: is it right because God commands it or does God command it because it is right?

Socrates’ answer: it is commanded by God because it is right – not the other way around.

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The Problem with the DCT:

One last example

Socrates’ question about the definition of “what is good for your education”:

Euthyphro: what is good for your education is whatever is whatever your parents command

Socrates: is it good for your education because your parents command it or do your parents command it because it is good for your education ?

Socrates’ answer: it is commanded by your parents because it is good for your education – not the other way around.

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The Divine Command Theory:

Two interpretations

Interpretation 1:

Something is right because God commands it

Interpretation 2:

God commands something because it is right

Interpretation 1:

Good for your education because your parents command it

Interpretation 2:

Commanded by your parents because good for your education

Mere Authority

Knowledgeable guide

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The Divine Command Theory:

Interpretation 1 – Pros and Cons

Interpretation 1:

Something is right because God commands it

PROS:

- There are moral truths

- These truths are easy to find: Follow the Scriptures as an absolute authority

CONS:

- Moral truths are arbitrary

- How to understand the Scriptures when ambiguous or outdated?

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The Divine Command Theory:

Interpretation 2 – Pros and Cons

Interpretation 2:

God commands something because it is right

PROS:

- There are moral truths

- These truths are not arbitrary

CONS:

Moral truths exist independently of religion / God

We need another foundation!

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The Divine Command Theory:

The Divine Command Theory is the view on morality that what is right is whatever God commands.

Socrates’ question:

Is it right because God’s commands it or does God command it because it is right

Two interpretations:

1. Right because God commands it

Problem: Arbitrariness of moral truths

2. Commanded by God because it is right

Problem: need for another foundation

The Divine Command Theory

Conclusion

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Outline

Introduction

The Divine Command Theory

The Natural Law Theory

Conclusion: Religion and Morality

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The Natural Law Theory

The Natural Law and the Cosmos

The idea of the cosmos:

  • Cosmos: the world in rational order – natural law
  • Humans: gifted with reason to understand the law
  • Morality: understand and follow the natural law

The Natural Law Theory

The Natural Law Theory is the view that what is right is governed by the natural law, which reflects the rational order of the world.

Aquinas: Reason = “the imprint of divine light” on us

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Humans vs. Animals

- Only humans can follow the law voluntarily – will

- Only humans can understand the law – reason

The Natural Law Theory

Morality and Us

Believers vs Non-believers

All humans can understand and follow the law, believers or not, because all humans possess reason and will

To what extend is religion a foundation of moral truths?

- The rational order is the ultimate foundation

- But Religion gives us the assurance that the world is in a rational order

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The Natural Law Theory

Moral Truths

How can we understand the law?

  • Same as mathematics (Euclid)
  • Rational intuition + logical reasoning

What does the law provide us?

  • General guiding principles for our motives/intentions
  • NOT specific acts for particular circumstances
  • Ex: “good entrusted to another should be restored to their owner”
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The Natural Law Theory

Conclusion

The Natural Law Theory: what is right is governed by the natural law, which reflects the rational order of the world.

Common aspects between the NLT and the DCT

- There are moral truths

- We can know them

Difference between the NLT and the DCT:

- Use of reason necessary

- All humans

- Only guidelines – not particular cases

The NLT: what does religion give us?Rational order of the world

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Outline

Introduction: Is religion a necessary basis for morality?

The Divine Command Theory: 2 interpretations

The Natural Law Theory

Conclusion: Religion and Morality

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Our problem:Moral truths

1. Are there such things as moral truths?

2. How do we know them and what is their content?

An answer: ReligionBut how?

1. Divine Command Theory:

- Socrates’ question: two interpretations

- Interpretation 1: moral truths arbitrary

- Interpretation 2: need for another foundation

2. Natural Law Theory

- Reason as the ultimate foundation of moral truths

- Religion as the guarantee of the rational order of the world

Morality and Religion

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