Non-Standard Semantics and Divine Command Theory

by Max Andrews

An abstract from my recent paper titled “A Critique of the Use of Non-Standard Semantics in the Arbitrariness Horn of Divine Command Theory“:

If divine command theory is to prove true, the God manifesting the commands must be an Anselmian God.  In Louise Antony’s example, “If DCT is correct, then the following counterfactual is true:  If God had commanded us to torture innocent children (τ), then it would have been morally right to do so.”[1] Antony is assuming the counterfactual, in the subjunctive mood, is a feasible circumstance for God to find himself in.  Thus, Cgτ ⊃ Mτ[2], the antecedent is necessarily false.  If something were necessarily false it would be nonsensical to derive any meaningful counterfactuals since it is counteressential to an Anselmian God… To separate the essential properties of God from the necessary truths derived from these essential properties would render an incoherent proposition.

[1] Louise Antony, “Atheism as Perfect Piety,” Goodness Without God, 71.

[2] M = Morally obligated to.  Assuming an Anselmian God in the proposition.


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