Essays On The Euthyphro Dilemma

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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.

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.

Contingent values, on the other hand, are not applicable everywhere and at every time — let’s say the prohibition on eating certain kinds of foods at particular times of the year.

Swinburne’s stratagem has a serious drawback: if absolute values are independent of specific circumstances, then they can be arrived at by reason (which is of course the project of most ethical philosophers), and one falls yet again on the horn of the dilemma that says we don’t need gods to tell us what to do.

Fortunately, God is both supremely sovereign and good. Sharpness is bad for a shoe, however, for a good shoe is one that is comfortable and supportive to a foot.

Therefore, God's nature itself can serve as the standard of goodness, and God can base His declarations of goodness on Himself. God, as creator, is the determiner of all purposes of His creation.

What is amazing to me about the Euthyphro is that a short, eminently readable, dialogue written by a Greek philosopher 24 centuries ago has puzzled, and keeps puzzling, some of the greatest minds who have applied themselves to the question of morality.

Moreover, as mentioned above, this isn’t just a theoretical exercise, as it directly challenges a core belief about ethics held by the majority of humanity. IRANI PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY AT THE CITY COLLEGE OF NEW YORK.


Comments Essays On The Euthyphro Dilemma

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