Monday, June 15, 2009

Who's to decide?

Does the existence of right or wrong require that there be a "decider" of what is right or wrong? If this is so, then we either have moral relativism (different cultures decide it differently) or divine command theory (the most powerful being is the decider)? Or can something be right or wrong even if there is no one to decide that it is?

"I'm the decider. I decide what's best." -George W. Bush


unkleE said...

I am only a little aware of the problems with the various views, but I would have thought it reasonable to say:

1. Basic ethical values (e.g. Jesus's summary of love God and love your neighbour) are just true, like 1 + 1 = 2 is true. God is not diminished (as per Euthyphro's dilemma) by submitting to them.

2. But we humans have impaired faculties to detect or determine ethical values, so we need help. (Otherwise we get quite a bit right, but some things wrong - hence most cultures, religions and the non-religious agree about many ethics.) God is the best source of knowledge about ethics.

I guess this is not so much "Divine Command Theory" as "Divine Endorsement and Explanation Theory".

You're the philosopher, what do you think?

Steven Carr said...

Switching on lights

If a god says it is immoral to switch lights on during the Sabbath, are we allowed to claim that no god said any such thing?

Who gets to decide what God has or has not commanded humans to do?