Euthyphro Dilemma Argumentative Essay Ideas

Divine command theory is widely held to be refuted by an argument known as “the Euthyphro dilemma”. This argument is named after Plato’s Euthyphro dialogue, which contains the inspiration for the argument, though not, as is sometimes thought, the argument itself.

The Euthyphro dilemma rests on a modernised version of the question asked by Socrates in the Euthyphro: “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?”

Each of these two possibilities, the argument runs, leads to consequences that the divine command theorist cannot accept. Whichever way the divine command theorist answers this question, then, it seems that his theory will be refuted. This argument might be formalised as follows:

The Euthyphro Dilemma

(1) If divine command theory is true then either (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, or (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.
(2) If (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, then they are morally good independent of God’s will.
(3) It is not the case that morally good acts are morally good independent of God’s will.
Therefore:
(4) It is not the case that (i) morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good.
(5) If (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God, then there is no reason either to care about God’s moral goodness or to worship him.
(6) There are reasons both to care about God’s moral goodness and to worship him.
Therefore:
(7) It is not the case that (ii) morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God.
Therefore:
(8) Divine command theory is false.

The first premise of the Euthyphro dilemma presents two alternatives to the divine command theorist: either morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good, or morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God. The two options offered to the divine command theorist are intended to be logically exhaustive, so that if divine command theory is true then one of the options must be the case. The divine command theorist is therefore forced to choose one of the options to affirm.

The second premise states the consequences of the divine command theorist affirming the first of the options offered to him in premise (1), “morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good”. It states that if the first option is true then the morally good is morally good independent of God’s will. This claim is supported by an argument known as the independence problem.

The third premise denies that the morally good is morally good independent of God’s will. Of course, the critic of divine command theory does not believe this premise to be true; he believes that morality is independent of God’s will. However, the divine command theorist is committed to accepting this claim because divine command theory just is the theory that all moral truths are dependent on God’s will. Though critics of divine command theory disbelieve this premise, then, they can still use it against the divine command theorist.

The first subconclusion, (4) is the rejection of the first option offered to the divine command theorist in premise (1), “morally good acts are willed by God because they are morally good”. That this option is false follows from premises (2) and (3).

Premise (5) states the consequences of the divine command theorist affirming the second of the options offered to him in premise (1), “morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God”. It states that if this option is true then there is no reason either to care about God’s moral goodness or to worship him. The first claim is supported the emptiness problem, and the second by the problem of abhorrent commands.

(6) states that we do have reason both to care about God’s moral goodness and to worship him. Again, this is used as a premise to which the divine command theorist is committed, rather than as a premise that the critic of divine command theory believes is true.

The second subconclusion, (7), is the rejection of the second option offered to the divine command theorist in premise (1), “morally good acts are morally good because they are willed by God”. (7) follows from premises (5) and (6). Instead of the emptiness problem and the problem of abhorrent commands, the arbitrariness problem can be used to support it, if need be.

Finally, (8) concludes that divine command theory is false. Premise (1) stated that if divine command theory were true then one of the two alternatives offered to the divine command theorist would also be true. The argument from (2) to (7) has, it is claimed, shown that neither alternative is true. It is therefore inferred that divine command theory is false.

Essay on The Euthyphro Dilemma

1554 Words7 Pages

The Euthyphro Dilemma

In Plato's dialogue, 'Euthyphro', Socrates presents Euthyphro with a choice: `Is what is pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved [by the gods]?'

Euthyphro responds by asserting that piety is that which is approved [loved] or sanctioned by the gods; whence impiety is whatever is disapproved of by the gods. However, as Socrates points out, the question poses a dilemma for those who believe as Euthyphro does that Truth is revealed by divine authority alone.

Now, a dilemma is an argument forcing a choice of two unfavourable alternatives. The important point here is that the alternatives must be equally unfavourable. Simply to be faced with two alternatives is not to be…show more content…

But surely we can know, for example, that cruelty is wrong independently of any reference to what God has revealed. Also, the person whose moral life consists in blindly following what he or she takes to be moral rules revealed by God is morally immature, just as the child who sticks rigidly to the rules of a game without ever asking what those rules are for is immature.

The consequences of accepting that the goodness of actions consists simply in the fact that God favours them are obviously disagreeable. However, the consequences of accepting the alternative also appear unfortunate. If it is maintained that God favours certain actions because they are objectively good, it seems that their goodness is independent of His will. But such a view appears to be inconsistent with the conception of God as the omnipotent creator and sustainer of all that is. It means that there is a realm of moral values which exist quite apart from God's creative will and to which His will must conform. Such a view must inevitably appear blasphemous to all those who believe in God, for it makes God out to be less than He is.

The theist, therefore, appears to be faced with a choice between a view which implies a kind of moral chaos and a life of moral immaturity, and one which belittles an Almighty God. One attempt to resolve this dilemma turns on the distinction

Show More

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *