T Nation

Answer to the Euthyphro Dilemma?


#1

Do any of you have an answer for it?


#2

No

Can. I have that 6 minutes of my life back.


#3

Its all just very anthropocentic.

Morality, by necessity, must take a species nature into account and God could have given us a set of rules that fit our nature best whereas the Vodon of Shlor, who are gigantic spidermites with 5 sexes have received a different set of rules, because their nature demands it.


#4

[quote]Severiano wrote:
Do any of you have an answer for it?

[/quote]

The first guy in the video after the intro guy nails it off the bat. He says what I said a couple of days ago in another thread here:

“Good” is an essential characteristic of His(God’s) being.

Now whether or not this opens up other problems is a different question. If you have a different question ask away. The answer to the OP question is as above.


#5

Why is “being good” an essential characteristic of God?


#6

[quote]MattyG35 wrote:
Why is “being good” an essential characteristic of God?[/quote]

I don’t know why but that’s what the bible says and it’s what the faithful believe.


#7

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]Severiano wrote:
Do any of you have an answer for it?

[/quote]

The first guy in the video after the intro guy nails it off the bat. He says what I said a couple of days ago in another thread here:

“Good” is an essential characteristic of His(God’s) being.

Now whether or not this opens up other problems is a different question. If you have a different question ask away. The answer to the OP question is as above.[/quote]

If God is essentially good, then God’s actions are good, which means God’s commands are good, which means that whatever the command, it is essentially good. Which is just longer way of saying the same thing as the choice in the dilemma. Not an answer at all.


#8

I don’t quite get how the first ‘issue’ brought up to create the dilemma is an issue given the question posed. Is the video explaining the dilemma incorrectly?

A) Where does morality come from
->God
---->But is it good because God commands it or because it’s good
-------->Because God commands it

That may mean that ‘something can be good just because he commanded it’ as mentioned in the video,but… isn’t that kind of the point if it’s the answer to ‘what created morality?’ Any other possible answer will be subject to infinite regress(mentioned by the guy in the suit, who apparently teaches a Philosophy and Religion class while being openly disdainful and dismissive of religion).

I’m sure I’m wrong, awaiting replies that inform me.


#9

Sorry for the late reply. I got caught up doing something and with other posts. Okay, let’s see…

[quote]MrZsasz wrote:

If God is essentially good, then God’s actions are good…
[/quote]

Correct.

Correct.

It also means that He never would command anything that is not good.

[quote]

Which is just longer way of saying the same thing as the choice in the dilemma. Not an answer at all. [/quote]

I disagree. The reason something is good or bad is not relevant here. What’s relevant is that “good” is an essential characteristic of God and fhat explains why He acts and commands that which is good.


#10

[quote]SexMachine wrote:
Sorry for the late reply. I got caught up doing something and with other posts. Okay, let’s see…

[quote]MrZsasz wrote:

If God is essentially good, then God’s actions are good…
[/quote]

Correct.

Correct.

It also means that He never would command anything that is not good.

What is relevant is what is the nature of “good”, in the sense of meta-ethics. If you claim that God is “good” as his very nature and he would never command anything that wasn’t good, you are correct in a sense. But it also means that God cannot command anything that isn’t “good” because God simply is “good”, which means all his actions are “good” by definition. Not “good” in the sense of how we view actions as moral, i.e. murder/rape/stealing/etc is wrong, but “good” simply because they derive from him. Things aren’t so much “good”, they are simply “God’s”.


#11

[quote]red04 wrote:
I don’t quite get how the first ‘issue’ brought up to create the dilemma is an issue given the question posed. Is the video explaining the dilemma incorrectly?

A) Where does morality come from
->God
---->But is it good because God commands it or because it’s good
-------->Because God commands it

That may mean that ‘something can be good just because he commanded it’ as mentioned in the video,but… isn’t that kind of the point if it’s the answer to ‘what created morality?’ Any other possible answer will be subject to infinite regress(mentioned by the guy in the suit, who apparently teaches a Philosophy and Religion class while being openly disdainful and dismissive of religion).

I’m sure I’m wrong, awaiting replies that inform me.[/quote]

Yes, it forces the argument into two horns as the video mentions.

He is disdainful and dismissive because it boils goodness down in such a way that the faithful person can no longer say that rape, or murder are wrong outside of explanations that they are wrong because God deemed it so. So, if God said so, rape could be good… By relativising what is good, the moral authority of Abrahemic religions are undermined because there are many other more robust moral theories out there. The most respected moral authorities on the planet are holy people such as Popes, Mullahs, Rabbi’s etc. Who all compete saying, “Because God says so.” If this is God, then he becomes more of a tyrant, who is all good and omnipotent that doesn’t seem to be worthy then of worship for reasons outside of fear of hell, or desire to go to heaven.

It seems we can rationally and on some level intuitively know that rape is wrong for reasons outside of God simply saying so. There are many robust and developed moral concepts that appeal to reason.


#12

[quote]MrZsasz wrote:

What is relevant is what is the nature of “good”, in the sense of meta-ethics.

[/quote]

That’s a completely different question. It’s a good question and an interesting question but it is not contingent upon any of the things I’ve said so far.

I’m not sure what you’re saying exactly. An omnipotence paradox? Again, an interesting question and I guess you could say it’s relevant. Or are you talking about a paradox that arises because God could theoretically do something evil - but I say because God is by nature good He would never do evil. So the only possible paradox I can see arising is an omnipotence paradox: if God is omnipotent that means He could theoretically go against his nature and do evil. However, I’m not sure that is a paradox. If God by nature is good then by His nature He would exclusively do good and so even though He could theoretically do evil He never would. His very nature prevents the paradox from arising. I hope I’ve understood what you were getting at anyway.

I think of God as the source or fountainhead of what is “good”. So good is not a separate entity or form; it is intricately connected to God. Now if it’s in God’s nature to only do good then that does not mean He decides arbitrarily what is good and what is not because good is something that remains as a constant. It doesn’t change. What is good yesterday is good today. So God cannot do something today that is and has always be and will always be evil. The fact that it is evil means that He would never do it. So the fact that ethics remain constant and unchanged removes any possibility of arbitrariness.

[quote]

Things aren’t so much “good”, they are simply “God’s”. [/quote]

See above.


#13

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]MrZsasz wrote:

What is relevant is what is the nature of “good”, in the sense of meta-ethics.

[/quote]

That’s a completely different question. It’s a good question and an interesting question but it is not contingent upon any of the things I’ve said so far.

I’m not sure what you’re saying exactly. An omnipotence paradox? Again, an interesting question and I guess you could say it’s relevant. Or are you talking about a paradox that arises because God could theoretically do something evil - but I say because God is by nature good He would never do evil. So the only possible paradox I can see arising is an omnipotence paradox: if God is omnipotent that means He could theoretically go against his nature and do evil. However, I’m not sure that is a paradox. If God by nature is good then by His nature He would exclusively do good and so even though He could theoretically do evil He never would. His very nature prevents the paradox from arising. I hope I’ve understood what you were getting at anyway.

I think of God as the source or fountainhead of what is “good”. So good is not a separate entity or form; it is intricately connected to God. Now if it’s in God’s nature to only do good then that does not mean He decides arbitrarily what is good and what is not because good is something that remains as a constant. It doesn’t change. What is good yesterday is good today. So God cannot do something today that is and has always be and will always be evil. The fact that it is evil means that He would never do it. So the fact that ethics remain constant and unchanged removes any possibility of arbitrariness.

[quote]

Things aren’t so much “good”, they are simply “God’s”. [/quote]

See above.[/quote]

You are still smack dab in the middle of arbitrariness. Omnipotence is part of it the other horn of the argument, or are you arguing God isn’t the source of all goodness?

option 1- God is in control and the source of goodness… So good is arbitrary and rape may as well be good…

option 2- Goodness is outside of God, so there must be some greater source of good that God is slave to.

option 3- The nature of God is goodness- is vacuous and is reduced to #1 and is not another horn of argument at all. Unless you can find another argument?

What the biggest problem seems to be is figuring out how to marry Gods goodness and remain consistent with our ability to know that bad things like rape and murder are wrong without God, or in spite of God…

This, is the thing that has never been able to be answered otherwise your faith and your God hold no real authority outside of sort of threats and rewards of heaven and hell.


#14

^^

It’s not arbitrary because it’s constant and remains unchanged. Now, if you’re asking who originally designed ethics and decided on what is good and what is bad then the answer is of course God; the creator of all things. His nature is good and He acts in accord with His nature. He decided that rape and murder are bad. I guess in that sense you could say it was an arbitrary decision to make them bad…maybe. But they will always be bad, they remain as a constant; God acts in accord with His nature and therefore He will always act in accord with ethical constants.

Edited


#15

[quote]SexMachine wrote:

[quote]MrZsasz wrote:

What is relevant is what is the nature of “good”, in the sense of meta-ethics.

[/quote]

That’s a completely different question. It’s a good question and an interesting question but it is not contingent upon any of the things I’ve said so far.

[/quote]

No, it’s not a completely different question; it’s the question that underlies this dilemma. Asking what is the “good” and giving the answer as “God”, leads to clarifying why God is good and what is “good”.

Jack: That was a good action
Jill: Why was it good?
Jack: Because God commanded it and God is good.
Jill: God = Good or God is good?

If we are trying to decide on the source, or fountainhead, of morality, the understanding of what we mean by morality is intrinsic to the very problem at hand. Thou shalt not skill is not just a command; it is a moral command on what is good and evil. But what makes it moral is that it comes from God, and God is the source of morality. And then we get to the dilemma.

I am not sure which way you are going with the word “nature”. You seem to want to say that God = Good, that it is his very being. But then you say “it’s in God’s nature” as well, which is like saying it’s a characteristic of God. It is in my nature to get frustrated but it is not the nature of my being. If you mean it is a characteristic of God to be good and to only do good, fair enough, but then good doesn’t flow from God, its an independent attribute. So then God hasn’t decided on what is good , something else must define this characteristic for God to have it.

Now, if God made the rules based on his very essence, we are still left in a bind. Once again we are forced to ask how we define “good” and “evil”. God’s commands tell us what is good and evil. And how does God decide what is good and evil? God = Good. So saying something is “good” is really just saying it’s “God” with an extra “o”.

Being constant doesn’t change the fact that the origin of “good” is what we are after. He can stick to his guns all he wants but we still need to know where the definition of the “good” arises. Because if the answer is simply “God is good”, we still need to answer why.


#16

[quote]SexMachine wrote:
^^

It’s not arbitrary because it’s constant and remains unchanged. Now, if you’re asking who originally designed ethics and decided on what is good and what is bad then the answer is of course God; the creator of all things. His nature is good and He acts in accord with His nature. He decided that rape and murder are bad. I guess in that sense you could say it was an arbitrary decision to make them bad…maybe. But they will always be bad, they remain as a constant; God acts in accord with His nature and therefore He will always act in accord with ethical constants.

Edited[/quote]

That doesn’t seem to be consistent either. If God is by nature good, then all of his actions and commandments are good. Are you sure this is what you want to say? I’m going to tell you now that the result is really ugly if we simply follow some ideas about what murder is. Or, the nature of the bible being pretty inconsistent from old to new.

Is that really your position?


#17

Sorry, I’ve been answering some long comments on another thread and have burned up a lot of free time. I am interested in this and appreciate your questions. I will be back with some responses a bit later.


#18

[quote]Severiano wrote:
You are still smack dab in the middle of arbitrariness.

[/quote]

Depends what you mean exactly by “arbitrary”. Firstly, ethics remain constant across time. So murder was always and will always be bad. So was it an “arbitrary” choice to make it “bad” in the first place? Maybe. I doubt it though. As I said, morality is universally perceived and understood by man. And I instinctively believe that murder is actually bad and that God was right to denounce it as evil. So it doesn’t seem arbitrary to me at all because I feel the same way. And I believe we all intuitively and instinctively know right from wrong even though we don’t often do the right thing.

I don’t think God arbitrarily decided what was good and evil. Good and evil are elements of a constant, unchanging moral order that can be perceived. He did not just pick rules at random. You can clearly see a pattern and a philosophy at work here - do unto others; an eye for an eye etc. This is not an “arbitrary” set of rules. He doesn’t say wearing purple socks on Wednesdays is evil and kissing yellow toads is good. He has a system by which men should live their lives that is designed to allow peaceful, coexistence. There is nothing arbitrary about such a system.

Nope.

I’m not looking for any arguments. I’m telling you what I believe and why. And as I’ve said previously, I don’t purport to be able to “prove” such things. But there is nothing paradoxical about God being the source of good. It’s a theoretically sound premise.

[quote]

What the biggest problem seems to be is figuring out how to marry Gods goodness and remain consistent with our ability to know that bad things like rape and murder are wrong without God, or in spite of God…

This, is the thing that has never been able to be answered otherwise your faith and your God hold no real authority outside of sort of threats and rewards of heaven and hell. [/quote]

Uh huh. You don’t even know who “my God” is though or what I believe beyond what I have told you. And I have not made many of the claims you say I’ve made. I think you make too many assumptions about what I believe. Just see what I say. Don’t try to extrapolate or make guesses. You won’t get many guesses right with me as I have rather unorthodox beliefs and it’s not easy to predict what I think about something based on what you think you know about any particular religion.


#19

Edited 4 editz

[quote]Severiano wrote:

That doesn’t seem to be consistent either. If God is by nature good, then all of his actions and commandments are good.

[/quote]

This is really simple. Look, God is good. It’s in His nature to only do good. The reason God’s commandments are good is because He only does good. He would never command evil because it’s not in His nature; therefore everything He commands is good. There’s no paradox or arbitrariness there beyond what I mentioned in my previous post.

I say what I say and mean it. Just read what I say and don’t try to double guess me.

Huh? Follow some ideas about what murder is?

Again, you’re going off track again. Things in the bible that you think are immoral or inconsistent is not relevant to the discussion.

[quote]

Is that really your position? [/quote]

My position is precisely as I have stated it. Nothing more; nothing less.


#20

[quote]SexMachine wrote:
This is really simple. Look, God is good. It’s in His nature to only do good. The reason God’s commandments are good is because He only does good. He would never command evil because it’s not in His nature; therefore everything He commands is good. There’s no paradox or arbitrariness there beyond what I mentioned in my previous post.
[/quote]

This is already addressed in the video, and by many before: if it is in God’s nature to be good, then is that nature freely chosen by God, or is it imposed upon God?

To address another of your comments, no, ethics is not constant throughout all times and all civilizations. At least, not in the sense I think you mean. Aristotle recognized three universally vicious actions: murder, theft, and adultery, and these because their nature preclude them from being virtuous. Beyond that, norms of behavior are variable from culture to culture. Ethics in a higher sense might be said to be universal, but again, that doesn’t seem to be what you are saying.

Of course, this dilemma (or trilemma) arises out of the personification of deities (and not monotheism as the teacher/professor seems to suggest) and was therefore equally applicable to the gods of Athens. It becomes even thornier if we try to reconcile divine intervention and voluntary action with an unlimited God.