Divine Moral Goodness, Supererogation and The Euthyphro Dilemma

Alfred T M Archer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


How can we make sense of God’s moral goodness if God cannot be subject to moral obligations? This question is troubling for divine command theorists, as if we cannot make sense of God’s moral goodness then it seems hard to see how God’s commands could be morally good. Alston (Divine nature and human language, 1989) argues that the concept of supererogation solves this problem. If we accept the existence of acts that are morally good but not morally required then we should accept that there is no need for an act to fulfill a moral obligation in order for it to be morally good (1989, p. 261). This view has been criticized by both Stump (Philosophical Perspectives 6:475–491, 1992) and Lombardi (American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 79(2):313–326, 2005), who claim that it is impossible for an agent who has no obligations to perform acts of supererogation. Young (International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 73:83–95, 2013) attempts to defend Alston’s solution by offering a new analysis of supererogation. In this paper I will argue first that Young fails to provide an adequate response to Lombardi’s objection. I will then provide my own defence of Alston’s proposal.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-160
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal for Philosophy of Religion
Issue number2
Early online date25 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Divine Command Theory
  • The Euthyphro Dilemma
  • Moral obligation
  • Supererogation
  • Philosophy of religion


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