The Euthyphro Dilemma

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It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Euthyphro. (Discuss)

The Euthyphro Dilemma is an ancient problem first postulated by Plato. It challenges religious accounts of morality by asking 'Is an act good because God approves of it, or does God approve of an act because it is good?'.

If the former option is chosen, morality becomes wholly arbitrary. God could descend from the clouds and declare the murder of black people to be morally good, and it would be so. Many theists understandably find this repulsive. Some have argued for this position, but claim that God would never do such a thing, raising further problems with regards to the omnipotence paradox.

If the latter option is chosen, God becomes wholly arbitrary, as he is reduced to merely applauding or booing human actions as they occur, which theists also find unsatisfactory. Again, the omnipotence paradox comes into play.

---Fallacy and Solution---

Taken as-is as a linguistic or conceptual construct, the Euthyphro Dilemma necessarily is insolvable.

But the Euthyphro Dilemma is a false dilemma for a combination of at least the following reasons.

  1. God is Creator of the basic functions of all basic things in the world
  2. God is perfectly wise
  3. the world that God created is fallen

Therefore, the Euthyphro Dilemma is not a dilemma in reality, but only within the sum of the concepts that constitutes the Euthyphro Dilemma.

An analogy to the reality is that of a modern fighter jet that humans build. If we rightly warn some reckless person not to put maple syrup in the fuel tank of an in-service jet, our warning does not create the wrongness of putting maple syrup in the fuel tank of an in-service jet. That wrongness is rather a matter of how we have made the jet to function in terms of the jet's in-service purposes.

So, the Euthyphro Dilemma is nothing more than an instance of dissociative philosophy: the intellectual phenomenon of failing to see all of the basics of a matter necessary to come to a conclusion that does justice to the reality of the matter.

So, it is only within the Euthyphro Dilemma's philosophically incomplete bounds that it poses any problem for attempts to integrate theology and ethics.