Divine command theory in early Franciscan thought: A response to the autonomy objection

Lydia Schumacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, many scholars have bemoaned the gradual demise of traditional virtue ethics, and its eventual replacement in the later Middle Ages by divine command theory. Where virtue ethics nurtures a capacity for spontaneous moral judgement, this theory turns on adherence to ordained duties and laws. Thus, virtue ethicists among others have tended to object to the theory on the grounds that it undermines the role of the moral agent in moral adjudication. In this article, by contrast, I will argue that there is a way of construing divine command theory, which is not susceptible to this critique. To this end, I will turn to the work of first-generation Franciscan scholars, who affirmed the necessity of human understanding of divine commands and the complete freedom of the will to observe them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)461-476
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Volume29
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jul 2016

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