4 April 2013
The Euthyphro Dilemma
In the reading Euthyphro, Socrates asks about piety (“The Euthyphro-Question”) to show the lack of clarity of the Divine Command Theory. By Socrates questioning the meaning of piety, it is intended to show the clarity of the Divine Command Theory. In this paper, I will argue why horn one of the Euthyphro Dilemma shows the Divine Command Theory to be false, but also how horn two supports the theory.
The Divine Command Theory states that actions are right or wrong just because God commands or prohibits them. This means that the only thing that makes and act morally wrong is that God either commands or prohibits it. Whether he will support or be against them, it is entirely up to him. This theory shows that actions can either be accepted or denied based solely upon God’s judgment and whether he agrees or disagrees with what is at hand. If God agrees with certain actions or circumstances, then it is right just because God says that it is right. But on the other hand, if God does not agree with certain actions or circumstances, then it is wrong because God says that it is wrong. Whatever God wants to command becomes a standard of moral rights. So if God commanded someone to rape another person, the Divine Command theory proves that rape would be moral because doing the right thing is the same as doing what God commands. It is impossible to imagine God commanding to do such a wrong act. The Divine Command Theory is solely based upon what God commands.
The Euthyphro Dilemma asks: does God command us to do something right because it is right, or is something right because God commands it? For example, do we love thy neighbor because God says that it is right, or is it right because God commands it? According to the Euthyphro Dilemma, there are two horns that pose trouble for the Divine Command Theory. Both horn one and horn two differ from one another, and stand for two opposite theories on how God differs between right and wrong. The two horns are independent from each other. Each horn has its own explanation of which of the two supports the Divine Command Theory.
The first horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma states that God commands us to do what is right because it is right. This says that if God simply commands something as right, then he bases his decision on what to command on what is already established as right. God’s commands are not the source of morality but solely a source of information about morality. It is independent of God because God recognizes what is right. This is saying that God does not decide if actions or circumstances are right or wrong, he simply agrees with whatever view has already been put into place. He bases his outlook off of what has already been previously made as right or wrong and goes along with it. God is able to command actions or circumstances and those things will always be considered good. Morality is dependent on God, so the ability of the people to be right without God’s commands is impossible. So this horn expresses the complete opposite to the Divine Command Theory which says that actions are right or wrong just because God commands or prohibits them. The first horn therefore does not follow what the Divine Command Theory is saying. It is going on how God puts his views based on what is morally right or wrong. This horn expresses the complete opposite of the Divine Command Theory.
The second horn of the Euthyphro Dilemma states that something is right because God commands it. This is simply saying that God is the one who makes decisions on what is considered right. I accept this horn as true because it is consistent to the Divine Command Theory and this is my explanation. He is the one who decides what is right or wrong. This second horn is saying that all God’s decisions are based on God’s choices and the decisions he decides on, therefore, supporting the Divine Command Theory. So if the second