What Socrates Should Have Said


In this thesis, William Alston’s influential defense of divine command theory is critically evaluated. It is argued that Alston, in positing evaluative particularism, undermines his defense because moral particularism, a rival theory of moral obligation, follows from evaluative particularism. Furthermore, the moral particularist need not deny that God has moral obligations. Even if evaluative particularism did not entail moral particularism, it fails to makes God’s commands non-arbitrary, contrary to Alston’s claims. On divine command theory, God does not make commands for moral reasons, which is a fundamental principle of moral agency, necessary for any moral action to be non-arbitrary. Also, the divine nature does not uniquely pick out particular good actions to be obligatory. It is also objected that Alston’s evaluative particularism posits a God which is either conceptually incoherent or non-existent, demonstrated by an evidential argument from evil given in the paper.


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