On Euthyphro's Dilemma and Divine Command

Best Essays
On Euthyphro's Dilemma and Divine Command

In Plato's Euthyphro, Socrates presents a fundamentally meta-ethical problem to

Euthyphro by asking “whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy,

or holy because it is beloved of the gods” (Plato 219)? I will relate this question to the

Divine Command Theory of morality and discuss the philosophical implications

associated with each possible answer to the dilemma while demonstrating fallacies and

inequalities within each.

Divine Command Theory (DCT) asserts that “morality is somehow dependent

upon God, and that moral obligation consists in obedience to God’s commands. Divine

Command Theory includes the claim that morality is ultimately based on the commands

or character of God, and that the morally right action is the one that God commands or

requires” (Austin). The seemingly paradoxical dilemma Socrates puts forth to Euthyphro

is thus illustrated by its two horns: 1) Are morally good (or pious) acts commanded by

god because they are morally good?, or 2) Are morally good acts good because they are

commanded by God?

To define God in any specific relative term would nonetheless be a monumental

undertaking for which I fear I would not do justice, but in the sense of constructing any

sound and reasonable argument in favor of any one thing or the other there must first be

some concrete premise to build upon. Staying true to the subject at hand I will notZellner 2

attempt to undertake any ontological argument, but for the sake of these arguments

pertaining to DCT we shall not solely define God in the apologetic sense as the

Judeo-Christian God of Abraham, but as the omniscient, omnipotent, and perfectly

benevolent Supreme Being whom transcends all re...

... middle of paper ...

...concrete theories and empirical truths, no matter how factual, that we may attempt to use

to understand his attributes.Zellner 8

Works Cited

Austin, Michael W. "Divine Command Theory." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

University of Tennessee at Martin, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Luther, Martin, et al. Luther And Erasmus: Free Will And Salvation. Philadelphia:

Westminster Press, 1969. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

Moreland, James P., and Kai Nielsen. Does God Exist?: The Debate between Theists &

Atheists. Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 1993. Print.

Plato. "Euthyphro." Plato: The Complete Works. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. 3 Rd ed. South

Bend, IN: The Complete Works Collection, 2011. 199-231. Print.

Russell, Bertrand. Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related

Subjects. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1957. Print.
Get Access