Gratitude to God for Our Own Moral Goodness

Faith and Philosophy (forthcoming)
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Someone owes gratitude to God for something only if God benefits her and is morally responsible for doing so. These requirements concerning benefit and moral responsibility generate reasons to doubt that human beings owe gratitude to God for their own moral goodness. First, moral character must be generated by its possessor’s own free choices, and so God cannot benefit moral character in human beings. Second, owed gratitude requires being morally responsible for providing a benefit, which rules out owed gratitude to God because God must do what is best. Both reasons are unpersuasive. I argue that God can benefit morally good character in human beings with and without their free choices. Subsequently, I argue against views of moral responsibility that preclude divine moral responsibility and argue that influential accounts of moral responsibility preserve it. Thus, these two requirements generate no problem for owed gratitude to God.



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Robert J. Hartman
Ohio Northern University

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