Essays On The Euthyphro Dilemma

" Answer: Plato's famous question concerning the nature of goodness asks whether a thing is good because God says it is good, or does God say it's good because it is good.

This is known as Euthyphro's Dilemma (named after the character Euthyphro in Plato's 'socratic dialogue' on the subject of goodness).

This might include things that we instinctively know to be evil, like rape or murder.

But we don't want a morality based on God's arbitrary declarations, so it seems this choice is a poor one for the believer.

[is] not the sort of things that could create, sustain or change God”) he still cannot avoid the conclusion that morality is independent of God (the other option having been swiftly dealt with by other commentators, including Leibniz).

I have also pointed out that all of this is of concern only to moral realists, and that consequently— since I don’t belong to those ranks — this is for me a purely academic exercise.Perhaps Alfred North Whitehead was right after all: Western philosophy really is a series of (elaborate) footnotes to Plato. HIS BACKGROUND IS IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, THOUGH HE HAS RECENTLY DEVELOPED A KEEN INTEREST IN STOICISM. HIS MOST RECENT BOOK (CO-EDITED WITH MAARTEN BOUDRY) IS “PHILOSOPHY OF PSEUDOSCIENCE: RECONSIDERING THE DEMARCATION PROBLEM” (UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, 2013). The crucial move, according to Adams, is that God is by nature good, which is why the two meanings of right (or wrong) actually coincide (this is, of course, reminiscent of — though not identical with — Aquinas’ attempt, which we considered and rejected in part I).But, according again to Adams, God could decide to command differently, thereby separating the two meanings of right by making, for instance, rape, murder, and pillaging “moral” in the second sense.Adams distinguishes two meanings of words like right and wrong: one refers to what we all mean by those terms, an understanding that even an atheist can share.The second meaning is specifically religious and indicates simply what God wants, regardless of human judgment of the morality of such wants.Murder is evil because it is not the purpose of humans to arbitrarily decide when people should die.(Note that this does not necessarily vilify all human-caused deaths, such as capital punishment or war.However, if God is simply reporting a thing's goodness, then He is no longer the standard for goodness and seems to be at the mercy of some outside standard. As Christians we should affirm both God's sovereignty and His non-derived goodness.But we don't want there to be a standard above God that He must bow to, so this response does not seem attractive, either. Thus, we don't want a standard that is arbitrary nor one that exists outside or above God. A dull knife is not a good knife because the purpose of a knife is to cut.


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