Divine Command The Role of Religious Belief in Moral Reasoning The Importance of Religion in Ethics Is not ethics, after all, founded on religion? Don’t most individuals derive their moral convictions from religious sources Sociologically: a great many (over 50%) of armed forces personnel would describe themselves as religious Why not simply teach religious ethics? At very least, we must confront and explain the relationship Divine Command Theory DCT: when we say “a person is morally obligated to do something,” we mean “God has commanded that this be done” (Rachels) DCT: we experience our morality in the form of “commands,” and only a divine being (God) has the requisite authority to issue such commands (Eberle) Socrates’s dilemma with Euthyphro: Is the Law righteous (just) because God ordains it, or does God ordain it because it is Just? Abraham’s problem: religion does not always command what seems morally right Knowledge and faith: how do we know with certainty what God commands, and when (or whom) we are to obey? Practical Problems Some Important Contributions of Religion to Morality (Cook) Religions powerfully influence the sort of person one tries to become (character) Religious belief offers a powerful incentive to be moral Religion is a powerful argument against relativism (although religious beliefs may be consistent with moral pluralism) Religious convictions heighten the moral sensibilities and interpretive powers of most individuals The Dilemma of Conflicting Duties Story of Abraham (Kierkegaard) Story of King David, Uriah the Hittite, Gen. Joab, and Nathan the Prophet Jim Jones, David Koresh Conflicting religions, competing interpretations of “divine commands” The Independence of Ethics Regardless of your own, personal motivations (which may be religious), morality and the claims of moral obligation must be sufficient to stand on their own (non-believers are as obligated as believers) Your religion may provide your reasons for action, but moral actions must also be capable of being justified by reasons beyond religion The Dilemma of Naval Leadership You find yourself both a Navy or Marine Corps officer, and a devout believer in one of the recognized religious faiths. What happens when your devout religious beliefs conflict with natural law, with UCMJ, or with lawfully issued orders in the chain of command? You find yourself a Navy or Marine Corps officer, and you have men and women under your command who themselves encounter the dilemma above. What kind of counsel, leadership, advice, and example do you set or give?
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