Abraham's Dilemma

Robert Merrihew Adams

in Finite and Infinite Goods

Published in print June 2002 | ISBN: 9780195153712
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199869381 | DOI:
Abraham's Dilemma

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This chapter addresses the greatest fear about divine commands – that God may command something evil – focusing on a modernized version of Genesis 22 (influenced by Kierkegaard), in which Abraham finds it difficult to reject any of the following jointly incompatible beliefs: (1) whatever God commands is not morally wrong to do, (2) God commands me to kill my son as a sacrifice, (3) such human sacrifice is morally wrong. It argues that divine command theorists should not reject (1) but that in any cultural and religious context in which the dilemma can be taken seriously, (2) is the belief to reject.

Keywords: Abraham; dilemma; divine command; Genesis 22; human sacrifice; Kierkegaard

Chapter.  8142 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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