Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love: Divine Commands and Moral Obligations

Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love: Divine Commands and Moral Obligations

Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love: Divine Commands and Moral Obligations

Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love: Divine Commands and Moral Obligations

Synopsis

C. Stephen Evans explains and defends Kierkegaard's account of moral obligations as rooted in God's commands, the fundamental command being 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself'. The work will be of interest not only to those interested in Kierkegaard, but also to those interested in therelation between ethics and religion, especially questions about whether morality can or must have a religious foundation. As well as providing a comprehensive reading of Kierkegaard as an ethical thinker, Evans puts him into conversation with contemporary moral theorists. Kierkegaard's divinecommand theory is shown to be an account that safeguards human flourishing, as well as protecting the proper relations between religion and state in a pluralistic society.

Excerpt

I am convinced that this book will serve at least two audiences: those interested in Kierkegaard studies, and those simply interested in moral philosophy generally. I think that Kierkegaard scholars have not paid sufficient attention to the crucial role the related notions of divine command and divine authority play in Kierkegaard's writings, and I hope this book will make it evident how important these ideas are for Kierkegaard. Secondly, I think many moral philosophers still underestimate the power and attractiveness of a divine command theory of obligation. Those who do will, I hope, be challenged by the version of this view I develop and attribute to Kierkegaard. To make this case I include three chapters where I compare Kierkegaard's view favourably to some contemporary secular alternatives. I am particularly hopeful that taking Kierkegaard as an exemplar of a divine command theory of moral obligation will make it possible to see such a theory as a viable competitor in a secular, pluralistic society. For, as I argue in the concluding

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