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The Euthyphro Dilemma Argumentative Essay

Last updated on October 4th, 2019 at 04:59 pm


The Euthyphro Dilemma

The Euthyphro dilemma is a term used in reference to a theory of moral correctness as developed by the ancient Greek philosopher Euthyphro. In this dilemma, Euthyphro affirms that “What is dear to the gods is holy, and what is not dear to them is unholy” (Mikalson 1991).  What this means is that if God has approved of something, then it is morally right and if God has disapproved of something, then it is morally wrong. This kind of moral reasoning is referred to as the Divine Command Theory. Plato sought to challenge this kind of moral reasoning by asking, “Is what is morally right, right, because God approves of it or commands it, or rather, does God command it because it is right?” (Wainright 2005). The two possibilities appear somewhat contradictory to the actual theory because they impose conditions that may cause God to disapprove of us.

If we take the first option, which states that if God indicates that something is morally correct, then it is so, we could as well seek to question the rationality of this statement. We would not expect stealing for example, to be morally right because God states this to be the case. As human beings, our moral reasoning capacity is complex and as such, we cannot always base our moral relevance upon God’s subjective will since we might command certain acts that by our own standards are inherently wrong.

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There are a number of challenges facing the above argument, with regard to the concept of a God by Christians. The first one is the issue of sovereignty. If indeed moral standards are not dependent on God’s will, then it means that God is not the establisher of the laws of morality that binds him. Also, God’s power could be limited by the moral standards. As such, this argument seems to place restriction on God’s power.

An alternative to the above argument would be that something is right because God commands it. This argument underscores the fact that in the absence of God’s commands, nothing would be wrong or right. However, there are a few problems with this option of the dilemma. If God’s will is the only moral standards, then we could argue that God’s commands are based on random choice, as opposed to any system or reason. Such a sense of arbitrariness could also endanger God’s status as a rational and wise being.

From a personal point of view, I imagine that it would be more reasonable to think of God as a representation of that which we believe in, as opposed to an actual “being”. Religion is a unique concept that is also unique from one individual to another. It also takes into account the purposeful function of fulfillment. Since humans’ spiritual desires helps to mould religion, as such, both morality and religion are actually inter-connected.

Reference List

Mikalson, J. D. (1991). Honor thy Gods: popular religion in Greek tragedy. New York:  UNC

Press Books 1991.

Wainright, William J. 2005. Religion and Morality. Burlington, Verm.: Ashgate.

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