2008 EPS Papers (Smedley)

November 19, 2008
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C. Donald Smedley

Hare on Divine Command Theory and Natural Law

Abstract: In his book, God’s Call: Moral Realism, God’s Commands, and Human Autonomy, John Hare argues that natural law fails to adequately and accurately capture the moral furniture of the world as a metaethical theory, rather opting for a version of divine command theory commensurate with Duns Scotus. In this paper, I wish to argue that Hare’s defense of divine command theory is problematical on two levels. First, as a theistic metaethical theory, Hare fails to give a satisfactory theological justification for his position. Second, his construal of divine command theory as the ground for moral obligation does not adequately account for some of our strongest moral intuitions and judgments. Both of these deficiencies, I argue, are better accounted for by a natural law theory.