Love, Obedience and Moral Obligation: Reflections on Scotus

Last week at 2016 Analytic Theology Seminar Series at Fuller Seminary Thomas Ward presented a paper on love for God in Duns Scotus’ works. For interaction with this paper

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Tom Ward is Assistant Professor and Graduate Director of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University (CA)

see a forthcoming blog post by JT Turner on Fuller’s Analytic Theology Blog. In the meantime here are some notes on Thomas Ward’s Lecture.

 

Love, Obedience and Moral Obligation: Reflections on Scotus

1.Contesting Voluntarism

  • Scotus – Divine Command is not the source of our obligation to Love God above all things. Love of God entails an obligation to obey his commands.
    • This might not be a actually a divine command theory
  • Scotus – so widely believed to be DCT & V
    • Scotus’s views do not comfortably bear these labels
  • Quinn: V – thesis that morality depends on the will of God
  • Murphy some moral status M stands in dependence relationship D to some act of the divine will A
  • If this is true – Scotus is not V – some moral obligations that don’t dpend on God’s will, i.e. the moral obligation to love God.
  • Scotus & Ockham were more liberal about what they thought it was logically possible to do.
  • According to Kent he is V, Williams he is not, Under Quinn & Murphy he is not, According to Evans he is not either.
  1. A Mitigation Interpretation
  • A mitigating interpretation – giving reasons why God legislated what he did, etc.
  • Thomas William’s unmitigated – God can do whatever is logically possible
  • Scotus – there are necessary moral truths over which God has no control:
    • Necessary moral truths – are logically necessary
    • This affects how we should think of the claim that God can do logically possible for God to do (as opposed to logically possible simpliciter)
  • Scotus – God must be loved
    • This is independent of the command to love him
    • From this obligation to love God, we can derive an obligation to obey God’s commands

3.Scotus on the Natural Law

  • If its part of natural law: first practical principles known in virtue of their terms or as conclusions that necessarily follow from them. If some precept p is part of the natural law then p is necessary in a very strong sense: God cannot make P false
  • Loose sense natural law – not entailed by but highly consonant with natural laws
  • He thinks some of the 10 commandments are part of natural law – the first table belong to the natural law in the strict sense, the second table belongs to the natural law in the loose sense
  • Augustine – we love our neighbor for God’s sake. Scotus might be seen as continuing the Augustinian intstrumentalization of the great commandments.
  • Second Table – If that good were not commanded, the ultimate end could still be attained and loved (beatific vision), the attainment of the ultimate end would still be possible.
    • Second table conformity is at best contingent upon achieving the ultimate end
    • Second table is contingent in the fact that God could have put forth other commands or none at all
  • First table commands describe precisely what natural law requires

4.The logical necessity of the practical necessity that God must be loved

  • Deus est diligendus… is a practical truth preceeding any act of the divine will
  • Conclusion: Scotus thinks that God’s doing or willing anything in any way contrary to Deus est diligendus “includes a contradiction” and is therefore impossible.

5.Logical Modalities a la Scotus

  • Real possibility: something is really possible if there is a power to bring it about
  • Logical Impossibility: defined in Scotus’s terms as a certain way in which terms cannot be combined by the mind because of the relationship of terms in a proposition, namely that they are opposed to one another
  • Logical Necessity IFF its contrary (or subcontrary) and contradictory are logically impossible.
  • God must be loved is necessary in this sense.

6.God must be loved

  • A logically necessary practical necessity
  • What should be loved the most is the best – so God should be loved the most
  • If we grasp the meanings of these terms we just “see” that God should be loved the most
  • There is a normative connection between love and the good
  • God has not choice but to be the highest God, thus he has no choice to be the object of greatest love

7.Logically Possible for Whom?

  • Its logically possible to hate God, but God can do anything which does not entail a contradiction, God should be able to hate himself. Why not?
    • A command to hate or to fail to love God is prima faciaie logically possible
  • Needs to be qualified: Humans, robots, elepthans can kick a soccer ball but pens and parameciums can’t. So do determine logical possibility we need to consider the PHI-ing in relation to the x.
  • Hating God is logically possible for humans and angels, but for God it is logically impossible.
  • The terms God & failing to love God are opposed to eachother.
  • God’s power means – God can do whatever is logically possible for God to do

8.God must love God

  • His radical voluntarism is more moderate if understood as “God can do whatever is logically possible for God to do.” Vs. “God can do whatever is logically possible.”
  • God by nature has intellect and will & is therefore capable of happiness + God has no potentiality, so he is happy. Only by knowing God can a person be happy. So God loves God.

9.God can’t command you to hate God

  • Also God cannot dispense anyone from their obligation to love God.
  • Where God to issue a command – never love me
    • Either it would generate a moral obligation or it wouldn’t
    • JERK MOVE
      • If so, he would have a moral obligation to love him and NOT love him. This would be an command in which one would be determined to fail
        • This is a jerk move, so God cannot possibily will to obligate some never to live him
      • OR… FRUSTRATION MOVE
        • God would be frustrated in his legislative obligation
        • But God cannot be frustrated: he gets what he wants
      • So He could not possibly issue a command which could not generate a moral obligation
  1. From Love to Obedience
  • Loving God, is “to repeat in our wills… God’s will for our willing. But willing what God wills for our willing is obedience. So it is necessarily true not just that God is to be loved, but that God is to be obeyed.”
  • One of the problem of DCT – is that they can’t show there are obligations to obey the command
    • What we need then is some other obligation to obey divine commands
    • We are required to love God, but not simply because it is commanded, but because it is logically necessary.
    • We have this moral obligation that does not depend on God’s will, because it is logically necessary that we love God.
  • This helps w/certain objections to DCT
    • God could command horrendous things
    • DCT is circular
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