The Ethical Theory of the Divine Command: The Examination and Criticism of Duns Scotus' Stance

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Faculty of Theology, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran


The ethical theory of the divine command explores the basis of the ethical values in the divine decrees that exist in the sacred texts. Duns Scotus – whose theological opinions have emphasized the free volition and the absolute power of God – has been among the adherents of this theory. In line with considering the origin of the ethical obligation to be the divine volition, he presents a balanced ontological exposition for this theory. Ignoring to separate the divine volition from divine command and lacking a clear criterion for the identification of the divine volition, having internal inconsistency and self-contradiction, ruling for the permissibility of nonbelievers not believing in the ethical principles, and lacking a fixed ethical criterion for judging the moral correctness or incorrectness of different affairs are among the main challenges that troubles him in adopting a balanced exposition of the ethical theory of the divine command. Using an analytical-citation analysis method, this article first explains the theory of divine command and different readings of it, and then evaluates the reading offered by Scotus.


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