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Does utilitarianism suffer the same fatal flaw as divine command theory?

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Wumbo Wombat
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Does utilitarianism suffer the same fatal flaw as divine command theory?

Post by Wumbo Wombat » September 1st, 2019, 12:53 am

Divine command theory is often met with the response: "is it moral because God commanded it, or did God command it because its moral"?

If someone wants to stand by the former... then they've simply defined morality as "what God commands". A mere definition is not a real moral theory. Now, if you were able to back the statement "morality = God's will" up with reasoning, then it could be a real moral theory. The problem with this is that to effectively argue that "morality = God's will", you would have to appeal to principles you believe are true on their own rights (such as moral sovereignty of a creator) and not because "God said", which would tend to undermine your position.

Utilitarianism claims that what makes us happy is good. But isn't this just a definition as well? Couldn't I could ask: Is happiness good because we desire it, or do we desire happiness because its good?

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h_k_s
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Re: Does utilitarianism suffer the same fatal flaw as divine command theory?

Post by h_k_s » September 2nd, 2019, 7:21 pm

Wumbo Wombat wrote:
September 1st, 2019, 12:53 am
Divine command theory is often met with the response: "is it moral because God commanded it, or did God command it because its moral"?

If someone wants to stand by the former... then they've simply defined morality as "what God commands". A mere definition is not a real moral theory. Now, if you were able to back the statement "morality = God's will" up with reasoning, then it could be a real moral theory. The problem with this is that to effectively argue that "morality = God's will", you would have to appeal to principles you believe are true on their own rights (such as moral sovereignty of a creator) and not because "God said", which would tend to undermine your position.

Utilitarianism claims that what makes us happy is good. But isn't this just a definition as well? Couldn't I could ask: Is happiness good because we desire it, or do we desire happiness because its good?
We are a pain avoiding species, same as all the other animals. Absence of pain makes us happy.

Has nothing to do with God nor with metaphysics.

CIN
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Re: Does utilitarianism suffer the same fatal flaw as divine command theory?

Post by CIN » September 2nd, 2019, 7:23 pm

Wumbo Wombat wrote:
September 1st, 2019, 12:53 am
Utilitarianism claims that what makes us happy is good. But isn't this just a definition as well?
Personally I don't think so. I would define 'good' as meaning 'meriting a positive response', where available positive responses include, for example, commendation (cf. R.M.Hare's precriptivism), approval, and seeking out. Similarly, I would define 'bad' as meaning 'meriting a negative response', where available negative responses include discommending, disapproval, and avoidance.

I would then suggest that as a matter of empirical fact, happiness is, by its nature, the kind of thing that merits a positive response, and therefore deserves to be called 'good'. Then, since the truth of the utilitarian claim that what makes us happy is good requires not just a definition, but also an empirical fact, the utilitarian claim is not a mere definition.

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Re: Does utilitarianism suffer the same fatal flaw as divine command theory?

Post by LuckyR » September 3rd, 2019, 2:30 am

Wumbo Wombat wrote:
September 1st, 2019, 12:53 am
Divine command theory is often met with the response: "is it moral because God commanded it, or did God command it because its moral"?

If someone wants to stand by the former... then they've simply defined morality as "what God commands". A mere definition is not a real moral theory. Now, if you were able to back the statement "morality = God's will" up with reasoning, then it could be a real moral theory. The problem with this is that to effectively argue that "morality = God's will", you would have to appeal to principles you believe are true on their own rights (such as moral sovereignty of a creator) and not because "God said", which would tend to undermine your position.

Utilitarianism claims that what makes us happy is good. But isn't this just a definition as well? Couldn't I could ask: Is happiness good because we desire it, or do we desire happiness because its good?
Yes, since both goodness and godly opinions are subjective. Thus they are both completely reasonable ways of managing one's moral dilemmas, though I subscribe to neither, personally.
"As usual... it depends."

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Re: Does utilitarianism suffer the same fatal flaw as divine command theory?

Post by Sculptor1 » September 4th, 2019, 7:12 pm

Wumbo Wombat wrote:
September 1st, 2019, 12:53 am
Divine command theory is often met with the response: "is it moral because God commanded it, or did God command it because its moral"?

If someone wants to stand by the former... then they've simply defined morality as "what God commands". A mere definition is not a real moral theory. Now, if you were able to back the statement "morality = God's will" up with reasoning, then it could be a real moral theory. The problem with this is that to effectively argue that "morality = God's will", you would have to appeal to principles you believe are true on their own rights (such as moral sovereignty of a creator) and not because "God said", which would tend to undermine your position.

Utilitarianism claims that what makes us happy is good. But isn't this just a definition as well? Couldn't I could ask: Is happiness good because we desire it, or do we desire happiness because its good?
The two "theories" are not on the same page.I think you have misrepresented utilitarianism, as it is not about simple pleasure or personal happiness. But nonetheless, though there may be problems with deciding on the greatest possible happiness for the greatest number, at least we have a starting point.
We all know what is painful and what is pleasurable. These vary from person to person as is obvious.

But the "word of God" ought not to vary from person to person. And it is really anyone's guess what exactly the "word of god"; if we take the bible as a reliable source book for god's actions does that make the various genocides he validated moral? Maybe you should believe the priest as he invites you as a boy to examine his dick? If a boy gives pleasure to a priest- is that God's will?

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