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Journal of Islamic Philosophy

Volume 4, 2008

Simin Rahimi
Pages 77-108
DOI: 10.5840/islamicphil2008419

Divine Command and Ethical Duty: A Critique of the Scriptural Argument

What is the relationship between divine commands and ethical duties? According to the divine command theory of ethics, moral actions are obligatory simply because God commands people to do them. This position raises a serious question about the nature of ethics, since it suggests that there is no reason, ethical or non-ethical, behind divine commands; hence both his commands and morality become arbitrary. This paper investigates the scriptural defense of the divine command theory and argues that this methodology is wrong as any interpretation of the text stands on a complex web of ethical and non-ethical presuppositions and as these presuppositions change so does the interpretation.