Sunday, October 12, 2008

Euthyphro Dilemma revisited:

Following my post about the Euthyphro Dilemma on my blog here and subsequent post at IIDB,There were several critiques of my post by a forum member AKA Deschain.Here is His analysis of what he called Ernest's Divine Command Theory.(lol)

He was responding to this:

Originally Posted by “Ernest”
I certainly did not chose horn number 2,i do think that there are reasons why God gives certrain moral commands,but it does not follow that this reasons are apart from God's nature.

As in,
1.God is Kind
2.God has a disposition against stealing
3.Because stealing causes losess to the victim,and its an act of cruelty
4.Cruelty is agaisnt God's nature of Kindness

If am correct,What Deschain and You have a contention with is that number 3 i.e reasons for stealing,would be independent of God's nature.God would need reasons indepedent of his nature to have moral commands.

But my position is,the reasons themselves are grounded in God's i have illustrated.

Then the question would be as Deschain pointed out,Would number 3 be evident enough i.e serve as a motivation by itself to humans without number 4?

Now at this juncture we have to discuss all the Atheistic/secular ethical moral systems.(which is a another discussion)

But if they all fail,then we have to move from 3 to 4,that it might not be self evident that Stealing is cruel without an Objective Moral standard,who is God.


1. On the Ernestombayo Divine Command Theory, actions that would normally be described as immoral can be considered objectively wrong because of certain dispositions that God has toward those acts. According to EDCT, it is not possible that God could have an alternative set of dispositions - i.e., God’s nature is strictly fixed and is as it is by necessity. As a result, it can never be the case that moral facts change; for example, it can never be the case that rape suddenly becomes morally permissible, or that charity becomes morally reprehensible, because God’s dispositions toward those acts can never change. The result of this is that, according to Ernest, we have an answer to Euthyphro’s Dilemma, which attempts to demonstrate that either: (1) morality is not founded on God; or (2) Morality is an arbitrary construct decreed by God. With EDCT, moral facts are not arbitrary because they are true by virtue of God’s unchanging dispositions toward morally-relevant actions. And with that, the dilemma seems to be answered.

Here’s why this doesn’t sound like a good theory to me: Why is it that God’s dispositions are sufficient to provide as a basis for moral facts, when no other individual’s desires (say, the dispositions of Wittgenstein, or Satan, or Whoopi Goldberg, or Boy George) are able to do so? What is it about God’s personal dispositions that provide us with an objective theory, when, according to Ernest's rejection of secularly-based ethical theories, using anyone else's dispositions as a basis for moral conduct leaves us with moral subjectivism?

Different believers that I’ve talked to have different perspectives on this. Some say that God’s dispositions are unique in that God is our Father, our Creator, and so we must do what he commands and desires of us. Others say that it is because God is all-powerful. Others say that it is because he is omniscient and therefore knows what is right and what is wrong, and so it is important that we follow him as our (much wiser) guide for moral behaviour. Ernest himself wrote that:

"From a Christian theological standpoint, if God has created us and sustains us in existence at every moment and so all good things of life come to us through his agency or permission, we have some obligation to please him and so conform to his commands and forbidding."

Continued on the next post.

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