Irrelevant God and Human Rights: The Debate Continues

Over at Balkinization

This is another instance of the old Humean is-ought problem: you can’t deduce conclusions about what ought to be done from premises that merely state what is the case. Stipulate that God exists and that God loves each of us. Nothing follows about obligation. You can say that God’s omnipotence gives him a really big club with which to thwack those who disobey his commands, so that you’d better do what He says or else. But at that point you’re not talking about any specifically moral obligation. One can say that God is the source of all value, so that the is-ought distinction doesn’t apply to him. But this is a mystical claim that, instead of answering Hume’s problem, simply refuses to engage with it, running “is” and “ought” together into a single ineffable Lump. Whatever its advantages would be, intellectually it’s no more satisfying than the secular “full stop” defense of human rights that Eberle dismisses.

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