The Euthyphro Dilemma Vs. The Divine Command Theory Two Theories Explaining Moral Behavior Explored.

1104 words - 4 pages

The divine command theory is the idea that moral actions are those that conform to God's will. For example, murder is wrong because God condemns it. Using this theory, there is a test for determining whether any action is right or wrong: if it conforms to God's will, it is morally permissible, but if it does not, then it is impermissible. This seems very simple. However, the theory breaks down when the will of God is examined. This is the reason for theists to reject the divine command theory. It is not necessary for others who do not even believe in the existence of God to start down the divine command theory path. Wondering about what a supreme creator decrees would be pointless if you don't believe in the supreme creator initially.In the Euthyphro dialogue, the dilemma concerns Socrates' discussion with Euthyphro. The discussion is about what piety is. Euthyphro believes that his actions are pious; Socrates challenges him to define "pious." Euthyphro's answer is that, '... piety is what all the gods love, and that impiety is what they all hate'. However, Socrates then asks if the gods love piety because it is pious, or is it pious because they love it. Socrates wants Euthyphro to prove what piousness is using logic. He is unable to do so because the divine command theory doesn't stand up under thorough scrutiny.Socrates points out that what is pious must be pious outside of the fact that the gods love it. If they love it, we have no information to explain why they love it. It could be totally arbitrary that they love it. The only thing that can be determined is that they love particular acts. The fact that they recognize an act as pious would in fact prove that piousness exists whether the gods love it or not. The point made by Socrates cannot be argued without returning to the original statement that what is pious is what the gods love, which makes no point at all.Why is The Euthyphro Dilemma important? Many theists consider God to be the basis of all morality. What does this mean? Is it that God is the source of morality and that what God wills is good and always trustworthy? If so, then God's commands are arbitrary, making it perfectly reasonable to say that one day God may decree that committing murder is a good thing to do. Most would say that murder is wrong and God would never say that is was good. One cannot question this without using some kind of basic morality that does not include God, or a knowledge of right and wrong that exists outside of God. If this knowledge of right and wrong exists, then, God's commands are not arbitrary but are formed on the basis of what is good or bad. If this is true, it means that there is a moral standard greater than God, or at least one that exists separately from God, to which God's laws or word must conform. In other words, if God cannot say that murder is a good thing, it is because the notion that murder is wrong exists separately from God's word. If this is true, who or what decides what is...

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