Episode Three of the podcast is available for download here. In this episode I cover the article "A Semantic Attack on Divine Command Metaethics" by Steve Maitzen.
I think I am gradually improving my style. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.
As I mention in the podcast, Steve develops a lengthy formal argument to supplement the more informal points that I discuss. I promised to provide a full map of that argument in this post so here it is. It comes in two parts and I recommend looking at them after listening to the podcast.
Part 1: Divine Command Metaethics is not Compatible with Traditional Theism
This argument is relatively straightforward. The only questionable premises are 2 and 4. Premise 2 is defended by arguing that a tautology cannot provide enough information to make a difference to a religious or theological claim about God. Premise 4 is supported by the considerations given in the podcast.
Part 2: Divine Command Metaethics is only true if Moral Nihilism is True
This argument is a little trickier. Premise 11 is the key, but it requires further elaboration and defence. Roughly as follows:
- Moral nihilism is the claim that there is no moral truth.
- This implies that moral nihilism is false if there is at least one moral truth.
- Proponents of DCM claim that facts about the will of an agent explain all moral truths.
- Specifically, facts about the will of a Supreme Being are what explain all moral truths.
- The Supreme Being is the God of traditional theism.
- So, proponents of DCM need traditional theism to be true.
- This implies that if there is at least one moral truth and if DCM is true, traditional theism must also be true.
Premise 11, then, is an accurate reflection of what proponents of DCM want to be the case. But because we have established that DCM is incompatible with traditional theism (in part 1 of the argument) we end up with the unappetizing conclusion that DCM can only be true if moral nihilism is true.