KIERKEGAARD AND EVANS ON THE PROBLEM OF ABRAHAM
Version of Record online: 3 AUG 2011
© 2011 Journal of Religious Ethics, Inc.
Journal of Religious Ethics
Volume 39, Issue 3, pages 474–492, September 2011
How to Cite
Manis, R. Z. (2011), KIERKEGAARD AND EVANS ON THE PROBLEM OF ABRAHAM. Journal of Religious Ethics, 39: 474–492. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2011.00490.x
- Issue online: 3 AUG 2011
- Version of Record online: 3 AUG 2011
- Fear and Trembling;
- divine command;
- problem of evil
A significant challenge faces any ethic that endorses the view that divine commands are sufficient to impose moral obligations; in this paper, I focus on Kierkegaard's ethic, in particular. The challenge to be addressed is the “modernized” problem of Abraham, popularized especially by Fear and Trembling: the dilemma that an agent faces when a being claiming to be God issues a command to the agent that, by the agent's own lights, seems not to be the kind of command that a loving God would issue. Against a solution to this problem proposed by C. Stephen Evans in Kierkegaard's Ethic of Love, I argue that Kierkegaard regards this scenario as never actually resulting in a fully responsible agent's performance of some horrendous action on account of her non-culpable misinterpretation of God's will and/or failure to discern correctly whether a perceived moral imperative truly is divine in origin.