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An Essay on Divine Authority

In the first book wholly concerned with divine authority, Mark C. Murphy explores the extent of God’s rule over created rational beings. The author challenges the view-widely supported by theists and nontheists alike-that if God exists, then humans must be bound by an obligation of obedience to this being. He demonstrates that this view, the "authority thesis," cannot be sustained by any of the arguments routinely advanced on its behalf, including those drawn from perfect being theology, metaethical theory, normative principles, and even Scripture and tradition. After exposing the inadequacies of the various arguments for the authority thesis, he develops his own solution to the problem of whether, and to what extent, God is authoritative. For Murphy, divine authority is a contingent matter: while created rational beings have decisive reason to subject themselves to the divine rule, they are under divine authority only insofar as they have chosen to allow God’s decisions to take the place of their own in their practical reasoning. The author formulates and defends his arguments for this view, and notes its implications for understanding the distinctiveness of Christian ethics. ~ Product Description

Table of Contents

    • Preface
    • Introduction: The Problem of Divine Authority    1
  • 1    What Divine Authority Is
    • 1.1    Reasons and Practical Authority    8
    • 1.2    Theses about Divine Authority    16
  • 2    The Compliance Thesis
    • 2.1    The Authority Thesis and the Compliance Thesis    20
    • 2.2    The Argument for the Compliance Thesis    21
    • 2.3    Implications of Speech-Acts and Sincerity    22
    • 2.4    Commands and Decisive Reasons for Action    24
    • 2.5    God’s Necessary Sincerity    29
  • 3    Divine Authority and Divine Perfection
    • 3.1    Divine Authority and Perfect-Being Theology    46
    • 3.2    Omniscience    47
    • 3.3    Moral Goodness    47
    • 3.4    Omnipotence    48
    • 3.5    Practical Authority as a Divine Perfection    58
  • 4    Divine Command Metaethics and the Authority Thesis
    • 4.1    Moral Philosophy as a Route to the Authority Thesis    70
    • 4.2    Divine Command Metaethics (DCM)    71
    • 4.3    Causal and Supervenience DCM Arguments for the Authority Thesis: Invalid    73
    • 4.4    The Analysis DCM Argument for the Authority Thesis: Valid but Unsound    77
    • 4.5    The Reduction DCM Argument for the Authority Thesis: Valid but Unsound    82
  • 5    Moral Arguments for the Authority Thesis
    • 5.1    Moral Principles and Divine Authority    93
    • 5.2    Justice    94
    • 5.3    Property    94
    • 5.4    Gratitude    104
    • 5.5    Coordination    120
    • 5.6    Obedience to God as an Independent Moral Principle    126
  • 6    The Authority Thesis and Orthodox Christianity
    • 6.1    The Stronger and Strong Authority Theses    131
    • 6.2    The Practical Stance toward God Endorsed by Christianity    134
    • 6.3    God’s Kingship over Israel    137
    • 6.4    Is an Authority Thesis an Affirmation of Scripture (or Tradition)?    140
    • 6.5    The Presumption against Belief in Authority Relationships    147
  • 7    A Solution to the Problem of Divine Authority
    • 7.1    A More Modest Account of Divine Authority    151
    • 7.2    Divine Authority, Loosely Speaking, Is Universal    152
    • 7.3    Divine Authority, Strictly Speaking, Is Not Universal    153
    • 7.4    Divine Authority Arises through Submission    153
    • 7.5    Submission to Divine Authority Is Reasonable    168
    • 7.6    Christian Ethics and Divine Authority    175
    • 7.7    Divine Authority Is Actual    187
    • Works Cited    189
    • Index    195