The Elements Of Morality

Submitted By Compton93
Words: 1418
Pages: 6

I am sure you have encountered situations in which you have had to determine whether an action was moral, or which of several actions would be the most moral. How did you come about your decision and would you guarantee you made the right choice? The majority of the world's population gain their sense of morality from their religion. The tendency for religious leaders to be perceived as speakers for morality is something that is seen worldwide. Anywhere there is religion, there are religious leaders; and although there isn't a biological difference between the leaders and followers of any religion that would make the leaders superior, they are still often "regarded as having special moral insight" (Rachels, 2003). In chapter 4 of The Elements of Morality (4th ed), James Rachels argues that this perceived connection of religion forming morality does not exist. Although religion can assist individuals in determining right from wrong, morality in itself does not depend on religion. This is supported by a deep analyzation of the Divine Command Theory. Essentially the Divine Command Theory says that what God commands us to do is moral and what he has forbidden is immoral. As Rachels states, this theory does have inviting qualities. The most pronounced of these qualities is that with God determining what is moral, there is no longer the question of objectivity. If we are to live a good and proper life all that we must do is follow God's commandments. However, if this were the case then no matter what God commanded us to do would become morally correct and anything he forbid would become morally wrong. Rachels explains this to mean "right conduct is right because God commands it". A fantastic way to think of this comes from Leibniz's Discource on Metaphysics: So in saying that things are not good by any rule of goodness, but sheerly by the will of God, it seems to me that one destroys, without realizing it, all the love of God and all his glory. For why praise him for what he has done if he would be equally praiseworthy in doing exactly the contrary?
If God had originally commanded that we are forbidden to tell the truth or that we must kill all puppies in Wisconsin, then that commandment would in turn be morally right. Now, I am by no means saying that God would command us to only tell lies or to kill Wisconsin's puppies, but that the possibility of absolutely any action God commanded being morally right exists within this theory. In Super 4Libros Sententaum, William of Ockham expressed that actions we call "theft" and "adultery" would be obligatory to us if God commanded us to do so. So, as you can see the Divine Command Theory lacks solidarity due to God being absolutely sovereign over the universal moral code. Aside from the possibility of objectionable actions being moral, the Divine Command Theory also creates the essential problem that before God gave his commandments that there was no morality. To lie, steal or murder were not immoral actions until God forbid them (Rachels, 2003). What if he had commanded us to participate in those actions? We would be forced upon immoral actions, but they would be considered to be moral. With this being said, it's clear that God's commandments are quite arbitrary. There's no more a reason for God's moral judgement to be as they are than for their opposites to be of truth. There is also no way to know if God is truly a moral being, nor anyway to know if he would mislead the human race. God is considered to be a sovereign being and have all control over what is considered ethical. As Michael W. Austin of Eastern Kentucky University explains, advocates of the Divine Command Theory "don't want to be stuck with the implication that cruelty could possibly be morally right, nor do they want to accept the implication that the foundations of morality are arbitrary". Questioning the arbitrariness of God's commandment makes Divine Command Theorists uncomfortable and they often will