God and the grounding of morality

Dissertation, University of Iowa (2018)
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Abstract

I argue that, if God exists, moral facts ontologically depend on him. After distinguishing a variety of ways in which moral facts might ontologically depend on God, I focus my attention on the most prominent and most well-developed account of the relationship between God and morality viz., the account developed by Robert Adams in his Finite and Infinite Goods. Adams’ account consists of two parts—an account of deontic moral properties and an account of axiological moral properties. Adams’ account of deontic moral properties is a version of divine command theory according to which the property of being morally right and the property of being morally wrong are identical to the property of being commanded by God and the property of being forbidden by God, respectively. I argue that although Adams’ divine command theory is not vulnerable to many prominent objections that afflict other versions of divine command theory, his view is, nevertheless, both unmotivated and implausible. Next, I explain Adams’ account of axiological properties, which is a particular version of what I call “theistic valuational particularism.” According to Adams’ theistic valuational particularism, the property of being intrinsically good or excellent is identical to the property of faithfully and holistically resembling God. I argue that because Adams’ conception of excellence is so broad, there are some things that have the property of being excellent but fail to resemble God. I argue that the same problem afflicts other, modified versions of theistic valuational particularism, including one that is defended by Scott Hill and another that is championed by Mark Murphy. Nevertheless, I argue that this problem does not afflict what I call “theistic moral valuational particularism,” the view that moral goodness is identical to the property of resembling God in certain, specified ways. Furthermore, I argue that, if God exists, theistic moral valuational particularism is not only well motivated theologically, but it can withstand the two most prominent objections that have been lodged against it, viz., the arbitrariness objection and the divine ascription problem.

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David Redmond
Northeast Iowa Community College

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References found in this work

Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1969 - Journal of Philosophy 66 (23):829-839.
Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
Good and Evil.Peter Geach - 1956 - Analysis 17 (2):33 - 42.
How Principles Ground.David Enoch - 2019 - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 14:1-22.

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