In this essay I will evaluate Socrates and Euthyphro conversation of, “Are morally good acts willed by God because they are morally good, or are they morally good because they are willed by God?” In my evaluation I explain that this question raises a philosophical problem in regard to morality related to theism. First, if a thing is good simply because God says it is, then it seems that God could say anything, and it would be considered good. If God is simply narrating a thing’s goodness, then it seems he no longer is the standard for goodness and is at the mercy of some outside standard. However, a third option does exist. People of faith affirm both God’s sovereignty and his non-derived goodness. This does not allow any standard to exist outside or above God. Lastly, I will explain the philosophical implications associated with each of the three options stated from above.
I wanted to start my essay defining certain key words that will be used throughout this essay. Piety is defined as a natural obligation; example is the obligations children have to their parents as piety. According to Charles Reade pious is “marked by conspicuous religiosity a hypocrite.” I wanted to explain up front my next word and how it will be used in this essay. God is defined as the Being perfect in power, wisdom and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe. When god is being used, I am not single out any one religion but mean God as from the standpoint of monotheist religions.
Metaethics does not focus on what is moral but it focuses on what morality itself is. Now that the definitions key words have been explained, let us go on to discuss the first of three philosophical problem which is the Divine Command Theory.
What is the divine command theory? Divine Command Theory belief that what’s moral and immoral is command by divine. It says God is the very foundation of our ethical system the source of morality is bible, it is plausible to say or believe that god created a divine handbook. Even if we don’t know who truly wrote the bible and for morality to be adhere to it can only come from one source God. The best benefit of the Divine Command Theory is how simple it is. You have a question on what is or isn’t moral, just ask God by checking the book. Most if not all our questions of morality can be answered with the Divine Command Theory and that is why it’s the most accepted theory on morality. Issues with the Divine Command theory what rules do we follow? Many rules throughout the bible can be considered to be out dated as they were written thousands of years ago. First Timothy states women should not where braids. Why do many Christians still believe that the ten commandants are still held to be true? Many more of these examples of picking and choosing what is moral and what is immoral can be found throughout the bible. With the issues of the Divine Command Theory, we now come to a true dilemma the Euthyphro Dilemma.
The Euthyphro Dilemma comes from a book by Plato. It is set in front the courthouse with Socrates and Euthyphro discussing why they are there. Socrates has been charged with corrupting the youth of Athens and Euthyphro is there to prosecute his father of murder. Socrates is appalled to hear Euthyphro (divine command theorist) is bringing murder charges against his own father and a discussion of morality ensues. Euthyphro is certain he is doing the right thing because the gods have commanded it. Socrates ask a question “Are right actions right because God commands them, or are right actions commanded by God because they are right?” This is what is known as the Euthyphro Dilemma.
The first dilemma if accepted states that right acts are right because God commands them. With the first dilemma you are accepting alone that God’s command alone is what makes it right. Morality based off the first dilemma could become different depending on how God feels that day. God one command could make everting we believe to cruel and inhumane and make those acts now good. For instance imagine the ten commandants turned around to mean the totally opposite of what they do today. If God commands moral and immoral acts just by saying so does that mean this entire concept to be absentminded?
The second dilemma proposed are if right actions are commanded are good by God because they are right. This suggest that something outside of god is telling him what is right and wrong. The issue stands from God did not create the rules, something else did. Something outside of God tells him what to say and there are things God can’t command if your belief is God created everything, it would be hard to accept this dilemma. So far we have discussed the Contrast between Divine Command Theory and Euthyphro Dilemma. Let us discuss and think about how God’s sovereignty plays a role in this philosophical problem.
- We now can see the true dilemma created by Socrates question by comparing and contrasting the three key issues that arise. This leads me to my conclusion.
We see that theist believe that God creates all things with value and perhaps prior to God’s creation of all things he was left absolutely no restraint. Does this include God creating a different world where bad is good. As God is deemed good it is impossible to believe he would create such a world to where bad is good and good is bad. Even with freewill we can say that what is good is good and bad is bad because god says so
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