Here is something I was thinking about on the bus ride home the other night (i.e., I haven’t fully worked it out yet). It seems possible to have a view about act evaluation that is both significantly consequentialist and committed to the claim that rightness/wrongness is a function of God’s commands. This could happen if you think that consequentialism is a view about what makes actions good or bad, better or worse–but that, strictly speaking, consequentialism has nothing to say about rightness/wrongness.
The latter isn’t a crazy view (Alastair Norcross endorses it, as does Frances Howard-Snyder). The general motivation for consequentialists to say stuff like this is that, on act consequentialism, miniscule differences in value can make the difference between wrong and right. But this seems to trivialize rightness and wrongness. One way to avoid this is to say that rightness and wrongness admit of degrees. But most people don’t seem to think this. If that’s you, it might be better to avoid deontic concepts altogether than to make them arbitrary features of the moral universe. A theory is then consequentialist just in case it tells you which acts are good (those acts that bring about net good) and which bad (ditto for bad), which better (those that bring about more value) and which worse (those that bring about less).
If you think this is the best interpretation of consequentialism, you can also happily hold that rightness/wrongness is a function of God’s commands. I even think this may have independent appeal (apart from the truth of theistic premises), given both (1) the intuitive pull of the claim that the better the outcome, the better the act, and (2) the work that we sometimes want ‘objective thresholds’ to do in moral theory. In particular, I’m wondering whether this kind of view can help with worries about threshold-arbitrariness. I think maybe it can, though it might depend partly on the particulars of the DCT.
Suppose you think that while our duty to keep promises usually trumps our duty to maximize value, there are times when our duty to maximize good trumps our duty to keep promises. On the consequentialist DCT I have in mind, what makes it the case that the right act to perform here is the one that maximizes value has nothing to do (as most Ross-style deontologies hold) with the amount value at stake; that would leave us open to the same worry about trivializing rightness/wrongness. What makes this the case is rather some fact about God’s commands. Since God’s commands aren’t arbitrary–at least, according to DCTs–the theory may be able to escape worries that plague other views of this sort.