Death Only by Choice

“Every death is regretable” is certainly not true. For many suffering in a terminal illness, death comes as a blessing. A peaceful passing away after a life well lived is desirable. Also, unfortunately, there are people who cause so much misery that their death is a reason for celebration.

However, in a situation focused on preservation of life, such as an ICU, it is true. There is regret about the failure to attain the goal of preserving life. More generally and rather vaguely, it expresses truly the thoughts and sentiments of the medical community whose focus is on preserving life. However, the belief fully expressed is “Every death is regretable as a failure of medical techniques for preserving life.”

For instance, consider a surgeon called in to operate on a patient he does not know. If the patient dies in surgery, he regrets his failure to save the life.

Even more generally and vaguely, it is true about society as a whole when society takes on the perspective of a medical community as it has during the COVID-19 pandemic. Society as a whole is forced to adopt a medical perspective by being compeled with lockdowns, face masks, social distancing etc. to participate in controlling spread of the virus. The world-wide restrictions develop a sense that the whole world is a place for protecting health, if not actually a hospital.

From this medical perspective “Every death from COVID is regretable” truly describes the societal belief. When the medical perspective is taken COVID drops out, shortening the belief to “Every death is regretable.” For the medical perspective does not regret death only from specific causes. Death is regreted as a failure of techniques for saving life.

I have read statements of government officials that not a single death from COVID is acceptable.

Long term imposition of the pandemic restrictions along with much else in our soceity leads to taking a medical perspective on human life a dominating perspective. Medical services, pharmecutical products and insurance for using them are major factors in our economies. It is the scientific way of looking at at life. The whole world is like a hospital. From this dominating perspective there arises the belief that every death is regretable as a failure of science.

Putting together this belief that every death is regretable as a failure of science with the confidence that every death is scientifically preventable, we confront the aspiration of the medical perspective that a regretable situation is to be eliminated. But eliminating death is not regretable. Even if scientific techniques develop to a stage at which brain death can be indefinitely delayed, that leads to lives not worth living. Nature sees to it that deaths are to be desired.

Does not, then, the medical perspective aspire to a contradictory situation of desiring what is regretable? No. There is a way out of the contradiction. For deaths which are not failures of scientific techniques for saving lives need not be regreted. Deaths by choice need not be regreted..

The aspiration of the medical perspective is to have death only by choice. But to bring about deaths by choice requires acting on the intention to directly take a human life. Intentionally taking a human life is in direct conflict with the Fifth Commandment “Thou shall not kill!”

So, with respect to my previous posts on how we deafen ourselves to Divine Commands, this post points our that adopting what I have called “the medical perspective” leads us toward not “hearing” the Fifth Commandment.

Philosophical Analaysis as Ignoring the Voice of God

I concluded my previous post with a promise to examine my personal recognition that it is a mistake to characterize abortion as anything that overrides thinking of it as stopping a human life. I made the promise because I conjectured that making a moral mistake is thinking of a situation in some way which obscures what it truly is. Fulfilling the promise is part of developing a divine command moral theory. For I am assuming that making a moral mistake is not hearing the command of God and that hearing the command of God is recognizing a situation for what it truly is. So, I will be commited to holding that, on some occasions at least, recognizing the truth, even the truth of empirical claims, is more than an empirical fact. It is a command from God.

I can recall clearly the occasion on which I came to recognize that abortion is fundamentally the intentional stopping of a human life. About forty years ago, I was teaching an introductory course in moral philosophy at Ohio State. I remember the classroom: 143 University Hall. The course focused on moral problems. In the two weeks, six classes, on abortion, we worked through the pros and cons of abortion. We speculated about various theories on what made someone a person, when life began and, of course,brooded over Judith J. Thompson’s famous essay comparing pregnancy with being involuntarily hooked up to a world class violinist for nine months.

In the last two decades of the twentieth century, a professor, at a secular university, could be neutral about the morality of abortion. I sensed, though, that it would be considered inappropriate to profess that abortion was intrinsically immoral.

Furthermore, the resources of philosophy are inadequate for constructing a proof of abortion immorality. The way is always open to shifting to consequentialist moral reasoning. The shift to consequentialist moral reasoning is strongly supported by the numerous “trolley examples” whose main thrust is to show the moral irrelevance of an intention to directly take a human life. For trolley problems see Trolley Problems. Abortion needs to be understood as directly intending to stop a human life in order to condemn it.

After the first week, I realized that the purpose of any abortion is to stop a human life in the womb before it is delivered and becomes a bigger problem than it imposes in the womb. When I realized that all of the discussion was to justify direct killing, I became ashamed of what I was doing. I dropped the discussion of abortion and dealt with other moral issues. Going forward, I did not request teaching moral philosophy classes and took on a greater burden of teaching boring introductory logic classes.

What was it like to come to this realization? I want to call it hearing the command of God. But there was nothing spectacular: no intense sensations or feelings. Cetainly, no sense of a booming voice of God. I simply realized that I morally ought to accept the second premise for the following moral syllogism.

Directly taking a human life is wrong under all circumstances and for whatever purpose.
Abortion is directly taking a human life.
Hence, abortion is wrong under all circumstances and for whatever purpose.

My realization was that I ought no longer allow essentially unending philosophical pros and cons stop me from taking the above syllogism as a having the strength of a mathematical proof. All sorts of fascinating, but unresolvable, philosophic issues can be raised about the syllogisms. Some of the issues concern notions of the role of intentions, whether utilitarianism is the correct moral theory, issues about personhood, rights of woman, beginning of life, personal identity. For me, there was the realization that the moral permissibilty of abortion was not a philosophical question. I commanded myself to stop philosophizing and look at the facts. The fact I confronted is that abortion is directly stopping a human life.

Yes, the command was autonomous. I gave it to myself. But the presentation of the fact in response to which I commanded myself was given to me by the moral commander as the fundamental fact beneath all of the other ways of characterizing the pregnancy.

For me, a way of making a moral mistake is not to respond to the facts about which I am raising all sorts of philosophical problems. Philosophical analysis of a fact is not observing it and. most importantly, not believing it as the truth.

Hearing a Command of God is Not a Fact for Psychology or Sociology

My philosophical project is to develop a moral theory in which fundamental moral laws are commands of God. This requires an account of how divine commands are heard or more generally received. I conjectured that I might get insight into how we hear God’s commands by investigating how we deliberately suppress hearing a divine command – deafening ourselves to the voice of God. These would be cases of moral obtuseness. See Pregnancy is Not Sexual

The practice of accepting abortion seems a very widespread practice of moral obtuseness. Millions, perhaps now billions, of otherwise tolerably decent human beings agree that the moral permissibility of abortion is to be determined by utilitarian calculation. And, as the facts show, the way costs and benefits are determined almost all, if not all, are considered morally permissible. They do not recognize abortion as stopping a human life. There is no doubt that some abortions solve very nasty personal and social problems.

I have now, though, come to think that my conjecture on how to develop an account of how we hear divine commands by exploring how people deafen themselves to divine commands is philosophically misleading. It is philosophically misleading because it leads me to complex empirical investigations. How people become insensitive to moral issues are very interesting psychological and sociological questions.

I have speculated why people are insensitive to the immorality of abortion. I was insensitive to its intrinsic evil for a while. One of my speculations is that people regarded pregnancy as somehow a matter of sexual morality. But is that true about people’s thought? Another speculation is that people think of pregnancy as a medical condition; by virtue of being a medical condition it can be dealt with according to utilitarian reasoning. Yet, a third speculation is that being physically connected to the mother’s body leads people to think that the child belongs to the mother to do with it as she sees fit. But the effort to make these speculations precise and then to investigate whether or not they tell the truth about a moral mistake made by a vast number of people is irrelevant to the philosophical task of giving an account of making a moral mistake.

For a divine command moral theory not hearing a divine command and making a moral mistake are the same. I have to give a non-empirical or conceptual account of what a moral mistake is rather than going off on the sociological task of explaining how people actually think when making a moral mistake.

I will start, in my next post, with my personal recognition that it is a mistake to characterize abortion as anything that overrides thinking of it as stopping a human life. Perhaps avoiding a moral mistake is thinking of a situation in anyway which obscures what it truly is. I’ll face the philosophical challenges to holding that recognizing the truth, even the truth of empirical claims, is not an empirical fact.

Pregnancy is Not Sexual

How are moral commands given?

In my effort to characterize how God’s moral commands are given and received, I start by describing ways we might block ourselves from hearing divine commands. Perhaps, knowing how we suppress them will show what we are suppressing.

These ways of deafening ourselves to divine commands are commonly called “rationalizations.” Not all rationalizations are conscious. Indeed, becoming aware of a rationalization may facilitate hearing the divine moral command. For often the rationalizations expose themselves as poor reasoning once they become explicit.

In my previous post, I sketched out a far-fetched rationalization for abortion. See “Abortion Stops a Coitus.” The foundation for this far-fetched rationalization is a very popular belief which to many sounds like common sense. The foundational belief is the moral neutrality of sexuality. I regard the moral neutrality of sexuality as the major rationalization deafening the opinion forming elites to divine moral commands for sexuality. If pregnancy is morally neutral, abortion can be justifed on utilitarian grounds.

I continue to criticize the moral neutrality of sexuality by showing how it supports another far-fetched rationalization for abortion. I expose it as leading implicitly to an absurd extension of the sexual. The gist of the rationalization is that pregnancy is a sexual matter and because sexual matters are morally neutral so is pregnancy

How could the condition of pregnancy be regarded as sexual? One way is the far-fetched rationale I gave in my previous post is that pregnancy is still sexual because it began with sexual intercourse. Another way is to extend the imprecise, but legitimate and important, notion of sexual privacy to pregnancy.

The notion of sexual privacy needs much examination and clarification. But I think that any analysis of sexual privacy will admit that there is such a thing and that whatever it exactly may be the first premise of the syllogism below is true. However, such an analysis will expose, I believe, that only a desire to justify abortion by making pregnancy morally neutral leads to the second premise.

What is sexually private to a woman is something with which a woman may treat according to her will.
Her pregnancy is something sexually private to a woman.
Hence, her pregnancy is something with which a woman may treat according to her will.

Abortion Terminates a Coitus; Not a Human Life. What??

Consider a defense of abortion which I have never heard anyone present. I present it to show the baneful distortions in thinking stemming from accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality.

Abortion is categorically prohibited even for pregnancies resulting from incest or rape. Abortions are direct intentional stopping a human life. It is a hard teaching. Much grievous individual and social pain is eliminable by some abortions.

Why do so many decent people ignore the fact that abortion is an intentional direct taking of a human life? Many of my fellow Catholics simply will not look at abortion as murder. They look only at the problems to be solved by termination of a pregnancy. Anecdotal evidence suggests that most of these decent people also accept the moral neutrality of sexuality. What I want to show is that looking at pregnancy in a certain way along with accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality provides a moral defense of abortion. If people unconsciously look at pregnancy in this certain way to justify abortion, then we have an explanation of why decent people vigorously defend abortion.

What is this special way of looking at pregnancy? It is looking at pregnancy as a continuation of coitus. Of course, this is far fetched but not totally incoherent. When exactly does coitus end? Upon ejaculation the male might be pretty well finished. But coitus is a mutual act and it is not clear that the woman’s part is over once the man withdraws. It is possible to consider fertilization as a continuation of a single mutual action of ovulation and ejaculation. I do not want to continue with details because this is all fuzzy thinking. The point I want to make is that there is a line of loose unconscious thinking which connects pregnancy primarily with sexuality for moral purposes. Indeed the exception some ardent pro-lifers grant to allow abortions for pregnancy starting from an incestual coitus or rape suggests that they may be identifying these pregnancies as parts of impermissible sex acts.

If pregnancy, for moral purposes, is looked at primarily as a condition connected with the coitus initiating it, then continuation or termination of the pregnancy falls under sexual morality. In the very widely held stance of moral neutrality of sexuality, viz., there are no categorical prohibitions of any sexual act, then abortion is open to being justified by references to its consequences.

An ultra sound is a fact check showing that pregnancy is no longer a matter of sexual morality.

The Sound of Divine Commands

What is it like to receive a divine moral command? What is it like to hear a moral command from God?
Answer: The sounds of a divine command are the thoughts and sentiments of accepting a categorical imperative.

The answer may appear an attempt to de-mythologize outlooks understanding moral commands as commands from God. We shall see, though, that including thoughts and sentiments in the authoritative moral outlook includes spirits, if not myths, in the outlook.

What are the thoughts and sentiments of accepting a categorical imperative?

Answer: The thoughts and sentiments of accepting a categorical imperative are the thoughts and sentiments of making a moral judgment with the thoughts and sentiments of authoritative morality. (To be developed in a subsequent post.)

Hence, the sounds of a divine command are the thoughts and sentiments of making a moral judgment with the thoughts and sentiments of authoritative morality.

No new moral rules are added to authoritative moral thinking by interpreting morality as based on divine commands. However, fears and hopes of the authoritative moral outlook need to be vindicated by interpreting the moral authority as divine. Hence, even if morality does not change by interpreting it as based on divine commands, moral theology changes to vindicate the fears and hopes essentially connected with morality.

Fear of violating a moral law, hope that one can obey the moral laws and that somehow it is better that the moral laws be obeyed are essential to moral thinking.

If the moral authority is merely aware of its commands being violated and obeyed, then morality does not matter. The authoritative moral outlook can degenerate into a version of moral nihilism that obedience to moral laws does not matter. Or worse, some group of humans may assume themselves to be the moral authority and try to be all-knowing about violations and authorized to make immoral actions have unpleasant consequences. Morality will matter under these tyrants. But we don’t want morality to matter to some human authorities.

Here I am assuming that the choices for interpreting the moral authority are right reason or a direct immanent activity of the Transcendent – God acting in nature. Moral theology needs to develop notions of this immanent activity of the Transcendent to accommodate the essential sentiments of moral thought.

Consider interpreting the moral authority as right reason. Right reason is the idealized notion of human reason working invariably to get the correct answers about facts and values. The thoughts and sentiments of accepting a categorical imperative as based on right reason is, then, hearing the command of the moral authority. But right reason itself is a lifeless abstraction. It is very difficult to interpret the transparency of our moral actions to reason. I accept the reality of collective human thinking. However, I think that some of our violations of moral laws do not get into collective consciousness. We can still commit secret sins. If right reason is real at all, it is real as a subset of collective consciousness. It is even more difficult to think of right reason as instrumental in having consequences for our violations and good conduct.

So, the moral authority needs to have contact with human reason both in individuals and the collective consciousnesses. But it also needs to be separate from human consciousness and perhaps, through moral commands, be able to have influence on what makes for human harm and good. I think we could think of it as spiritual.

Divine Commands vs. Divine Commanding

In various posts, I have sketched out the structure of morality based on the commands of an authority. In sketching out the structure of authoritarian morality, I have made a strong case that people who accept retributive punishment presuppose authoritarian morality. In other posts, I have sketched out a metaphysical structure of a Transcendent on which everything, including morality, depends for existence. I have, now, the conceptual tools for constructing a conceptual scheme in which the fundamentals of morality are commands of God, with God represented by the Transcendent.

Before working out details of this conceptual structure, I need to specify what actually occurs to make the construction correct.

The structure of authoritarian morality is not authoritarian morality. The structure characterizes the moral reality. The moral reality is the commanding by the moral commander and the responding of those to whom the commands are given. This is a temporal process. So, clearly, it is immanent. Of course, this process depends upon the Transcendent for its existence and character.

But what is the commanding and hearing of commands?

If morality really is based on divine commanding, then moral experience should reveal that activity. The structure of authoritarian morality should then characterize the morality arising from God being a partner in maintenance and development of morality. I am not privy to special moral experiences. There is nothing available to me that others do not also experience in their discussions and personal thinking about right and wrong, good and evil. So, what I say about the commanding of the divine moral commander is an interpretation of what people experience in moral thought and sentiment.

I propose that a sense or thought that we are correct in moral thought or discussion be interpreted as receiving a divine command. There are various descriptions of this sense of being correct about morality. Some have called it what we receive from a moral sense others characterize it as what they get from their moral intuitions, some call it what proper reason recognizes, others characterize it as what their conscience tells them and presently many express this by claiming it is a moral issue.

I use a phrase from Kant.

Stages in our feeling infused thinking at which we can declare a categorical imperative are stages at which we have a sense of receiving a divine command. These categorical imperatives are thoughts of the form “That is right,” “That is wrong,” “That is good,” and “That is bad.” The imperatives about good and bad imply imperatives about right and wrong because a categorical imperative judgment that something is good implies that a categorical imperative that one ought never inhibit it. A categorical imperative judgment that something is bad implies a categorical imperative judgment that one ought never promote it.

To repeat: I am interpreting taking a moral judgment as final is taking it as being divinely commanded. Of course, this does not mean that people consciously interpret their conclusive moral judgments as divinely commanded.

I must emphasize that we are not incorrigible recognizers of divine commands. Divine commands are incorrigible. God cannot err on what ought to be done or propose as good something which is not good. But we can make a mistake about whether God has actually commanded an act or proposed something as good. This is what should be expected if one holds that morality is objective. The prospect of a discrepancy between the objective and the subjective arises when there are thinking feeling subjects trying to be accurate about what is given. Divine commands are the given of morality.

Critical Race Theory Debates and Authoritarian Morality

I am not referring to critical race theory as a methodology for scholars in legal and social research wherein they focus on uncovering and diagnosing remedies for practices which, perhaps very subtly, have an adverse impact on certain populations; especially African-Americans. In September of 2021 I am writing about thoughts and sentiments I detect in news reports about debates on teaching critical race theory in public schools. I detect no serious interest in teaching a scholarly methodology. I sense as little connection between the current debates and critical race theory as there was between the “spirit of Vatican II’’ and the documents of Vatican II back in the 1970s.

I detect debate about adding a moral dimension to the teaching of certain subjects such as history and civics. Should children K-12 be instructed that white people ought to suffer some harm for harms inflicted on African-Americans? The debates are not primarily about teaching children of the harms inflicted on African-Americans, even if voices frequently claim that they only want the facts to be presented. The concern is over learning and understanding these frequently horrifying facts with a special moral sensitivity and aspiration. The special sensitivity is a sense that someone now bears guilt for these injustices and there is an aspiration is that we be purified of the guilt for these injustices. The purging will require discomfort if not clear cut physical damage.

My writing on this topic fits in with my project of showing that moral thought is thought of rules given by divine command. For I detect in these debates presuppositions of significant themes of what I have called “authoritarian morality.” It is authoritarian morality which I, then, model as divine command morality. But of even more importance for my own efforts to make a final contribution to philosophical thought which might then trickle down to improve everyday moral thinking, these confused debates convince me of the need to write a booklet on the notion of moral harm which I have been articulating in my series of blog posts. The confusion of these debates comes from confusion about guilt, punishment and moral harm .

The major theme presupposed is the legitimacy of retributive punishment in its primitive form. . Presupposing retributive punishment is assuming that violation of a moral law entails an expungable moral rule that some harm ought to be for violation of the moral law. The expungable moral rule is expunged when the morally required harm occurs. I have called the morally required harm “moral harm.” The fundamental or primitive form of retributive punishment does not specify the type or degree of the harm which ought to occur, the person or persons who are to suffer the harm nor who is to inflict the harm. Human beings, with development of theories of retributive justice, determine the moral rules for moral harm. That development is long and hard. See The Virtue of Seeking Retribution.

I am delighted to find acceptance of retributive punishment so widely used in a public debate. For that provides some evidence for my thesis that common moral thought is thought of an authoritative morality. Unfortunately, the satisfaction to my philosopher self is offset by my dissatisfaction as a citizen. People are implicitly using concepts such as collective guilt, obligatory harm, and substitutionary atonement without realizing they are doing so. Such unthinking use might do significant damage. For instance, there might be a need to induce much more consciousness of race if white children are to develop a sense of being guilty for harms inflicted by Whites on Blacks in 1920.

Thoughtful use of these concepts of primitive retributive punishment might alleviate the harms of thoughtlessly using them. I do not deny that thoughtless use of the authoritative moral theory that I recommend can afflict psychological and social damage. That fear gives urgency to my project of articulating clearly this moral theory because I believe it is implicitly the dominant, but confused, way of moral thinking.

The Transcendent vs Nothing

I am trying to understand the Christian* theme that there is a cosmic battle in progress between God and evil forces. This theme is, on the surface at least, incompatible with the Christian theme of God as the supreme unlimited source of everything except God. The latter theme expresses the standard philosophical concept of God with all the Omni’s, omniscience, omnipotence, etc..

This effort to understand the theme of a cosmic battle is crucial for my project of presenting morality as constituted by divine commands. In modelling morality as laws which are commanded it is very easy to slip into modelling morality as eternal standing laws. The model suggests that there are these immutable laws which were somehow established by a divine command. However, there really is no place for commanding. Classifying the moral laws as simply divine commands adds little to standard natural law models of morality. No new prescriptions can be added. And new prescriptions that some harm ought to occur upon violation of moral laws is crucial to morality as authoritarian morality. To emphasize that the divine commander of morality is an active commander, I try to model the divine commander as a “battlefield commander.”

At the risk of appearing to accept a childish reification of nothing, I explore a conjecture that God is struggling with nothing. There is a cosmic warfare between creating and nothing. Whatever the creator creates, the creator takes from nothing. Whatever the creator sustains keeps something from nothing. Nothing is the loser in creation.

In general, I do not like solving philosophic problems with a verbal change. If the change solves the conceptual problem, it seems an admission that the problem was only verbal. Nonetheless, I will experiment by frequently making the verbal change of “not being” for “nothing.”

The answer to “What is nothing?” is “not being.” So I rewrite my the crucial sentences of the previous paragraph as follows.

I explore a conjecture that God is struggling with not being. There is a cosmic warfare between creating and not being. Whatever the creator creates, the creator takes from not being. Whatever the creator sustains keeps something from not being. Not being is the loser in creation.

Let us suppose that the cosmic struggle is a reaction to creation. Creatures with intelligence and some power are necessary for there to be a struggle not to be – a struggle on behalf of nothing.

The creator creates intelligence with powers. There are intelligence beings with powers to influence what is created. Intelligence recognizes that it depends upon the creator for being. All intelligent beings dread not being. As dependent beings all intelligent beings are essentially capable of not being. And they know it!

There are two ways to react to awareness of dependence. One is to accept the dependent status with faith that the creator sustains one from not being. The other is to rebel against that dependent status.

In rebellion against the dependent status, a creature is rebelling against its being. The rebellious creature is choosing not to be. For a creature to be is to be dependent. Choice of not being dependent is a choice not to be. For a creature to be independent is for it not to be a creature and hence, not to be.

Choice against being a creature is choice against creation. Creation can be attacked only by preventing creatures from being – by having creatures not be. There is a limited way in which creation can be prevented. The only creatures that can be prevented from being are creatures who can not be as the creator intended that they be. These are creatures with free will. The moral laws tell these intelligent creatures what they are created to be. By violating the moral laws they choose not to be. For creatures with free will not to be as the creator intends in a particular area is always a general rebellion against being a creature and, hence, a choice not to be.

Some intelligences have chosen against their dependent status and hence have chosen creation not to be what it is. That means that some intelligences with powers have chosen that there not be creation – that there be nothing. The rebellious creatures want their choice to be correct. The vain hope for ratification of their choice is to have it chosen by all. Thus creatures in rebellion against being seek to use their powers to have others choose not to be which in its limited fashion is always a particular choice not be be as the creator intended in a particular area.

Hence, there is resistance in creation against what the creator creates. The resistant forces can alter what the creator intends in arenas in which the creator grants freedom of choice to some creatures. The typical resistance is disobedience to the moral laws of the creator who is the moral authority.

Subsequent posts will reconsider and clarify the notion of the creator being a moral commander in a contest with intelligences, with powers and free will, who have chosen that there be no creation.

* But I am not working in Christian theology. I want my work to be philosophic. I am here giving philosophic support to Christianity. My line of thought is that authoritarian morality is the correct philosophic model of moral thought. The authoritarian model posits a moral commander in conflict with evil. So, Christianity is shown to use a philosophically approved model of morality.

The Transcendent’ s Immanent Moral Order

The Transcendent’ s Immanent Moral Order

This post introduces a model of authoritarian morality as the moral order of theoretical reason’s Transcendent. As such, it can be fairly labeled a model of divine command morality. The model is a construct of theoretical reason about the moral use of practical reason. For theoretical reason the ground of everything is transcendent; not in the world – not immanent.

However, we have seen that theoretical reason can concede that what transcends theoretical reason need not transcend practical reason. We have also seen the inseparability of practical and theoretical reasoning. So, this model is a theory about a dimension of practical reason which may have direct contact with theoretical reason’s Transcendent. This model can be legitimately influenced by the practical reasoning it characterizes and also influence the practical reasoning it characterizes. For instance, temptations to disobey the moral laws might lead to theorizing about their correctness just as theorizing about correctness might strengthen resistance to temptations.

The above remarks are relevant for the case that the model is correct – presents the truth about correct human morality. There are three steps to evaluating a model of divine command morality. One: does it correctly represent a significant way in which humans think about morality? Two: What is it like for the commands of this moral thinking to come from a non-human source? Three: Is the non-human source the transcendent God?

In my series of posts outlining Authoritarian Morality, I have taken step one. Step three requires more detailed examination of practical reason. Theoretical reason cannot say that commands are those of the Transcendent because theoretical reason cannot speak of the Transcendent. So, theoretical reason can never complete a defense of divine command morality. Ultimately, proof that morality is based on divine commands comes from practical reason “hearing” the commands.

In my next post, I take step two by positing authoritative moral thinking as existing innately in human thinking. This way of thinking is directly dependent upon the Transcendent and humans have a capacity to recognize the source of this way of thinking. The Transcendent’s immanent moral order is built up by humans from innate capacities such as those for language and arithmetic. However, special features of moral thinking such as the universality of its laws and transparency lead to interpreting the constructions from this capacity as dependent on more than human work.