God and Ethics

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2023) | Viewed by 16633

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Special Issue Editor

School of Christian Thought, Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX 77074, USA
Interests: philosophy of religion; ethics; philosophical theology; philosophy and popular culture

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

An upcoming Special Issue of Religions will focus on God and ethics, a topic of importance in light of the recent resurgence of interest in this branch of natural and philosophical theology, the philosophy of religion, and religious epistemology. We are pleased to invite you to consider submitting a proposal for this volume.

Suggested themes include whether or not the evidence furnished by various aspects of ethics points in the direction of God, and, if so, in what fashion. This examination may include discussion of obstacles in the way of theistic ethics or challenges in making best sense of ethics apart from theism. The nature of the moral evidence adduced might cover (but is not limited to) intrinsic human value, binding moral obligations, moral knowledge, moral transformation, the category of evil, issues associated with reconciling moral reasoning and prudential reasoning, and the historical discussion of moral atheology or the moral argument. Matters of the roles of reason and emotion in moral epistemology, the nature of potential dependence relations of morality on God, and what a sufficiently robust moral theology looks like are all topics for investigation rife with potential. The aim is to have a collection of at least ten articles. Original research articles and reviews are welcome.

I look forward to seeing your proposals.

Sincerely,

Prof. Dr. David Baggett
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • God
  • duties
  • values
  • intrinsic goods
  • human value
  • moral knowledge
  • moral transformation
  • forgiveness
  • moral realism
  • moral argument

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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4 pages, 150 KiB  
Editorial
God and Ethics
Religions 2023, 14(10), 1290; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14101290 - 13 Oct 2023
Viewed by 534
Abstract
This unique and rich volume is the culmination of a Special Issue of Religions with a focus on “God and Ethics”, a topic both rich with historical significance and of special contemporary importance in light of the recent resurgence of interest in this [...] Read more.
This unique and rich volume is the culmination of a Special Issue of Religions with a focus on “God and Ethics”, a topic both rich with historical significance and of special contemporary importance in light of the recent resurgence of interest in this branch of natural and philosophical theology, philosophy of religion, and religious epistemology [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Other

15 pages, 251 KiB  
Article
Might Beauty Bolster the Moral Argument for God?
Religions 2023, 14(8), 1029; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14081029 - 10 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 868
Abstract
John Hare argues that Kant, in his Third Critique, offers an aesthetic argument for God’s existence that shares premises with his famous moral argument. Karl Ameriks demurs, expressing skepticism that this is so. In this paper, I stake out an intermediate position, [...] Read more.
John Hare argues that Kant, in his Third Critique, offers an aesthetic argument for God’s existence that shares premises with his famous moral argument. Karl Ameriks demurs, expressing skepticism that this is so. In this paper, I stake out an intermediate position, arguing that the resources of Kant provide ingredients for an aesthetic argument, but one distinctly less than a transcendental argument for God or an entailment relation. Whether the argument is best thought of as abductive in nature, a C-inductive argument, or a Pascalian natural sign, prospects for its formulation are strong. And such an argument, for its resonances with the moral argument(s), can work well in tandem with it (them), a fact not surprising at all if Kant was right that beauty—in accordance with an ancient Greek tradition—exists in close organic relation to the good. More generally, along the way, I argue that the sea change in Kant’s studies over the last decade or so should help us see that Kant is an ally, rather than foe, to aesthetic theodicists. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
22 pages, 400 KiB  
Article
The Secular Moral Project and the Moral Argument for God: A Brief Synopsis History
Religions 2023, 14(8), 982; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14080982 - 29 Jul 2023
Viewed by 1171
Abstract
This article provides an overview of the history of what is termed the secular moral project by providing a synopsis of the history of the moral argument for God’s existence and the various historical processes that have contributed to the secularization of ethics. [...] Read more.
This article provides an overview of the history of what is termed the secular moral project by providing a synopsis of the history of the moral argument for God’s existence and the various historical processes that have contributed to the secularization of ethics. I argue that three key thinkers propel the secular moral project forward from the middle of the 19th century into the 20th century: John Stuart Mill, whose ethical thinking in Utilitarianism serves as the background to all late 19th century secular ethical thinking, Henry Sidgwick, who, in the Methods, indisputably establishes the secular autonomy of ethics as a distinctive discipline (metaethics), and finally, G.E. Moore, whose work, the Principia Ethica, stands at the forefront of virtually all secular metaethical debates concerning naturalism and non-naturalism in the first half of the 20th century. Although secular metaethics continues to be the dominant ethical view of the academy, it is shown that theistic metaethics is a strong reemerging position in the early 21st century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
14 pages, 254 KiB  
Article
Normative Reasons, Epistemic Autonomy, and Accountability to God
Religions 2023, 14(5), 662; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14050662 - 16 May 2023
Viewed by 885
Abstract
According to many, human autonomy is necessary for moral action and yet incompatible with being morally accountable to God’s divine commands. By issuing commands that ground normative facts, God demands our accountability without understanding our normative reasons for moral action, which crushes human [...] Read more.
According to many, human autonomy is necessary for moral action and yet incompatible with being morally accountable to God’s divine commands. By issuing commands that ground normative facts, God demands our accountability without understanding our normative reasons for moral action, which crushes human autonomy. Call this the Autonomy Objection to Theism (AOT). There is an unexplored connection between models of normative reason and AOT. I argue that any plausible AOT must be stated in terms of an adequate model of normative reason. There are two broad metaethical categories for models of normative reason: anti-realist or realist views. I defend the thesis that both anti-realism and realism about normative reasons fail to support AOT by means of a dilemma. If the AOT defender adopts anti-realism about normative reasons (subjectivism and constructivism), AOT loses its force. However, if the AOT defender adopts moral realism, they face the same problem as the theist, as normative fact constrains autonomy. Consequently, AOT is a problem for all moral realists, including non-theists, such as Russ Shafer-Landau, David Enoch, and Erik Wielenberg, among others. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
12 pages, 278 KiB  
Article
A Christological Critique of Divine Command Theory
Religions 2023, 14(4), 558; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040558 - 21 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1776
Abstract
This paper presents a theological critique of divine command theory, a metaethical theory stating that moral wrongness is constituted by God’s command. First, I argue that this theory does not qualify as a Christian moral theory because it lacks connections to central parts [...] Read more.
This paper presents a theological critique of divine command theory, a metaethical theory stating that moral wrongness is constituted by God’s command. First, I argue that this theory does not qualify as a Christian moral theory because it lacks connections to central parts of Christian theology, such as Christology. This argument does not imply that the theory is wrong nor that it is inconsistent with Christianity—only that it is not Christian as such. Second, I argue that divine command theory does not fit well with the New Testament’s vision of the moral life, in which being conformed to the image of Christ has primacy over adherence to law. This argument implies that the Christian ethicist should look elsewhere for a metaethical theory. I next argue in favour of a moral theory of imitation, in which the moral life consists of imitating God, the prime exemplar of goodness, which is made possible through an imitation of Christ. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
27 pages, 329 KiB  
Article
A Critical Assessment of Shafer-Landau’s Ethical Non-Naturalism
Religions 2023, 14(4), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040546 - 18 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1451
Abstract
I focus on the ethical non-naturalism of Russ Shafer-Landau. First, I spend a good bit of time specifying the nature of two versions of naturalism and arguing that one is embraced ubiquitously—more importantly, should be embraced—by contemporary naturalists. I do so because if [...] Read more.
I focus on the ethical non-naturalism of Russ Shafer-Landau. First, I spend a good bit of time specifying the nature of two versions of naturalism and arguing that one is embraced ubiquitously—more importantly, should be embraced—by contemporary naturalists. I do so because if I am right about this, before we investigate the details of Shafer-Landau’s ethical non-naturalism, there will be a significant burden of proof for him to meet. In my view, that burden is strong enough to justify the claim that a critic’s epistemic task is merely to provide undercutting defeaters for Shafer-Landau’s position, and not to proffer rebutting defeaters, though I will attempt to supply both. After presenting a crucial characterization of contemporary naturalism followed by a critique of naturalist emergent properties, I state and critique Shafer-Landau’s ontology followed by the same for his epistemology. Both will be evaluated with a particular focus on their plausibility to support his ethical non-naturalism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
10 pages, 204 KiB  
Article
Is It Morally Permissible for Some People to Rape and Murder? Responding to Erik Wielenberg’s Argument That Divine Command Theory Fails to Explain How Psychopaths Have Moral Obligations
Religions 2023, 14(4), 507; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14040507 - 06 Apr 2023
Viewed by 1485
Abstract
Atheist moral philosopher Erik Wielenberg recently argued that Divine Command Theory is implausible as an explanation of objective morality because it fails to explain how psychopaths have moral obligations. In this paper I explain that everyone agrees the consciences of psychopaths don’t work [...] Read more.
Atheist moral philosopher Erik Wielenberg recently argued that Divine Command Theory is implausible as an explanation of objective morality because it fails to explain how psychopaths have moral obligations. In this paper I explain that everyone agrees the consciences of psychopaths don’t work as they should, but there’s disagreement among experts as to whether: A. The consciences of psychopaths don’t inform them of what’s right and wrong and that they should do what’s right or B. The consciences of psychopaths do inform them of these things but merely don’t generate the appropriate moral emotions. I argue that, based on the psychological research, a strong case can be made for B and thus under DCT psychopaths do have moral obligations because their consciences inform them of what’s right from wrong and that they should do what’s right. I also argue that even if A is true, God can, and does, make psychopaths aware of what’s right and wrong and that they should do what’s right through other means such as rationality, society, parents, culture, direct verbal commands, etc. Therefore, even if A is true, then psychopaths still have moral obligations under DCT because they do know what’s right from wrong and that they should do what’s right. Lastly, I turn the tables on Wielenberg and point out that his theory is even worse than DCT when it comes to providing an explanation for the moral rights and obligations of psychopaths Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
13 pages, 251 KiB  
Article
Theological Utilitarianism, Supervenience, and Intrinsic Value
Religions 2023, 14(3), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030413 - 17 Mar 2023
Viewed by 1421
Abstract
Erik Wielenberg has argued that robust realism can account for the “common-sense moral belief” that “some things distinct from God are intrinsically good”. By contrast, theological stateism cannot account for this belief. Hence, robust realism has a theoretical advantage over all forms of [...] Read more.
Erik Wielenberg has argued that robust realism can account for the “common-sense moral belief” that “some things distinct from God are intrinsically good”. By contrast, theological stateism cannot account for this belief. Hence, robust realism has a theoretical advantage over all forms of theological stateism. This article criticizes Wielenberg’s argument. Wielenberg distinguishes between R and D-supervenience. The coherence of Wielenberg’s robust realism depends upon this distinction. I argue that this distinction undermines his critique of theological stateism. I will make three points. First, once you utilize the distinction between R and D-supervenience, his argument for the incompatibility of theological stateism and intrinsic value fails. Second, theological stateism is compatible with intrinsic value. The historical example of theological utilitarianism, expounded by thinkers George Berkeley and William Paley, shows someone can accept that moral properties simultaneously R supervene upon God’s will and D supervene upon the natural properties of actions. Third, robust realism and theological stateism are in the same boat regarding intrinsic value once we distinguish between R and D-supervenience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
9 pages, 262 KiB  
Article
Is God’s Moral Perfection Reducible to His Love?
Religions 2023, 14(2), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020140 - 20 Jan 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1706
Abstract
Defenders of the identity thesis maintain that God’s moral perfection is reducible to and identical to His love. Unfortunately, this thesis overlooks the fact that, biblically, God‘s righteousness comprises both His love and justice. Moreover, divine justice is, in some significant measure, retributive [...] Read more.
Defenders of the identity thesis maintain that God’s moral perfection is reducible to and identical to His love. Unfortunately, this thesis overlooks the fact that, biblically, God‘s righteousness comprises both His love and justice. Moreover, divine justice is, in some significant measure, retributive in nature. This is especially evident in God’s eschatological punishment of the wicked, which can be justified only on retributive grounds. Such a retributive punishment cannot be attributed to love but is the just desert of the wicked. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
12 pages, 230 KiB  
Article
Divine Command Theory, Robust Normative Realism, and the Argument from Psychopathy: A Reply to Erik Wielenberg
Religions 2023, 14(1), 107; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010107 - 12 Jan 2023
Viewed by 1491
Abstract
Erik Wielenberg has offered a fascinating argument from moral psychology against a sophisticated theistic account of moral obligations: Divine Command Theory (DCT). This argument focuses on the pathology known as psychopathy—a perennial interest for those concerned with abnormal and moral psychology. The argument [...] Read more.
Erik Wielenberg has offered a fascinating argument from moral psychology against a sophisticated theistic account of moral obligations: Divine Command Theory (DCT). This argument focuses on the pathology known as psychopathy—a perennial interest for those concerned with abnormal and moral psychology. The argument can be labeled the argument from psychopathy for convenience. The strength of the argument is that it forces the DCT-ist to maintain that there are some human beings who have no moral obligations yet still do evil actions. This, he argues, is an implausible thesis. Therefore, DCT is false. In this paper, I defend DCT and argue that there is good reason to be neutral or skeptical that psychopaths have moral obligations and, to the degree that they do, they are able to grasp morality in a way consistent with DCT. Furthermore, if the argument does present a serious problem for DCT, then it does so for Wielenberg’s own view, Robust Normative Realism (RNR), just as much as DCT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)

Other

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10 pages, 270 KiB  
Comment
God’s Moral Perfection as His Beneficent Love. Comment on Craig (2023). Is God’s Moral Perfection Reducible to His Love? Religions 14: 140
Religions 2023, 14(9), 1205; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14091205 - 20 Sep 2023
Viewed by 1025
Abstract
William Lane Craig insists that I am wrong in reducing God’s moral goodness to his beneficent aim of drawing all people to himself. For Craig, God’s moral goodness, best conceived in terms of righteousness, must also include God’s retributive justice toward the wicked, [...] Read more.
William Lane Craig insists that I am wrong in reducing God’s moral goodness to his beneficent aim of drawing all people to himself. For Craig, God’s moral goodness, best conceived in terms of righteousness, must also include God’s retributive justice toward the wicked, who deserve the punishment they receive. My response is that Craig’s argument rests on two assumptions about value, neither of which, I argue, Christian theists have good reason to affirm. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue God and Ethics)
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