Thursday, October 20, 2011

Is the Euthyphro a Pseudo-Dilemma

Doug Benscoter thinks so. This would be bad news for the people who scream "Euthrypho!" every time a moral theory with a theological basis is introduced.

HT: Ilion.


William said...

true, it's a dialectic (see Hegel etc) not a dilemma in the logical sense, and indeed it looks like one solution is to accept both horns :)

AnonFundy said...

Thank God Abraham didn't concern himself with this pseudo-dilemma when it came to Isaac. That settles the issue IMO.

DL said...

Well, a dilemma doesn't mean a contradiction, just a pair of unpalatable choices. Some people get all worked up about Divine Command Theory and don't like the first choice, but that's just because they don't understand Natural Law. To those who do, it's not only palatable, but the only reasonable approach. So there's no dilemma after all, and considering this goes all the way back to Aristotle, you wouldn't think anyone would be puzzled by it any more. Unfortunately, people nowadays don't know their Aristotle from their elbow.

BenYachov said...

It is a pseudo-problem.

I yawn at the "Problem of evil".

BenYachov said...


This one is good.

This essay needs it's terminology
tweaked but is otherwise good.

BenYachov said...

God is not a being alongside other beings who happens to have the property of goodness.

Rather God is BeingItself. The Ground of All Being and via the concept of Transcendentals is therefore Goodness Itself and the source of all goodness in things.

The Euthyphro Dilemma only applies to false Theistic Personalist & or Neo-Theist gods which I am Strong Atheist toward not the True God.

Gregory said...

I have already defended the notion that the Euthyphro dilemma confuses "logical priority" with "chronological priority" when speaking of God and "goodness".

My argument is that God wills independently of His nature, since "natures" don't will anything at....but persons do.

But if we say that God wills necessarily from His own nature, then we are left with an unpleasant compatibilism with respect to God's decision making.

I would say that God's nature and God's will have no chronological ordering. Both exist in a contiguous relationship. However, with respect to logical ordering, God's will takes priority. I take the Holy Trinity as illustrative of this distinction between chronological and logical, priority. The Son and Holy Spirit having the ascriptions of "begotten" and "proceeds", respectively, express logical relationships rather than chronological manifestations.

So we say that God is good because He wills the "good". In other words, ascribing goodness to God is based exclusively on His willing. Hence we say that "God is good" because we observe that He acts in accordance with principles that we possess innately as creatures created in "God's image".

As for God's one has ever seen, or ever can see, God's "nature". His nature is ever beyond the grasp of human intellect. However, we do know God from His manifesting of Divine energy qua the created universe. So when we observe the "goodness" of the creation, we are affirming that God is good, insofar as our mind rightly apprehends God's energies.

So God's acts, along with our basic intuitions of "goodness", are the reasons why we ascribe "good" to God. In other words, we know that God is good from our own experience of the material universe.

Gregory said...

"He makes His sun to shine on the just and the unjust."

maksats said...

Gregory: like 30000 babies dying of malnutrition every day. That opens our eyes to His goodness?

Come on, man.

BenYachov said...

Gregory I see is channeling St Gregory Palamas.

As a Thomist I'm not sure I would agree with some of what he has said but OTOH I'm sure I can find a few Eastern Rite Catholics like George Mahoney or Fr. Stern that might agree completely.

Also I don't have the philosophical competence to dispute it so I won't.

Ilíon said...

maksats: "Gregory: like 30000 babies dying of malnutrition every day. That opens our eyes to His goodness?

Come on, man.

How much of your freedom to commit sin are you prepared to give up, so as to "force" God to be responsible for all the evils which occur in a world that is in rebellion against Goodness Himself?

Ilíon said...

The fact that God allows you and me and everyone else to continue to exist ought to be the thing which opens your eyes to his goodness. But, of course, you refuse to open your eyes, don't tou?

Nick said...

A pseudo dilemma, methinks.

Accept the arbitrariness horn, but ascribe the arbitrariness to the non-moral goods (or natural goods) that moral reason says we ought to promote in others. (And the non-moral 'bads' we ought to avoid promoting).

'Good' and 'bad' in the moral sense just pick out which end we're aiming for, the natural good of another person, or the natural bad. (Of course, we disagree on what constitute non-moral goods and bads; hence normative ethical debate.)

The gods could suddenly change the laws of biology so that hitting people makes them healthier and happier (ie is non-morally good). But then it would indeed become morally acceptable to punch people; that's not especially controversial.

On the other hand, if 'good' and 'bad' in the moral sense just tell us which end we're aiming for, the gods couldn't suddenly decide that it's MORALLY good to hit people if in fact it hurts them and messes up their noses. Not according to the way we all use the term 'morally'. It wouldn't be morally anything; they'd have collapsed the idea of moral judgement altogether and replaced it with something else.