Euthyphro Dilemma | Epidemic2020 Response
This is going to be a response to an old friend of mine Epydemic2020 and the Euthyphro Dilemma, a theologian and an assistant professor of philosophy. Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SoyuRJncKg Now as you watch this video notice how Epidemic simply dismiss the Euthyphro Dilemma as a false dilemma-dichotomy by claiming a 3rd option, and this ‘3rd option’ is what is in question. The classical version of the argument can be found in Plato’s Dialogs and appeals to the pious of the Gods, but the modern version raises the question as to the validity of God and morality. The argument goes as such,
“Is an action good because it is good or is an action good because God commands it to be?”
Now this dilemma is meant to be a counter rebuttal to the argument of divine command theory, in that moral law is commanded by a divine being (God). So since it’s inception this argument has often presented a vexing problem for theist because no matter how you answer it’s still going to run contrary to divine command theory. If you answer the first proposition, an action is good because it’s good, then we can reason that actions are inherently good within themselves and we would not need a God or divine being to determine them. If you answer proposition two, God commands moral acts, then morality is simply subjective and arbitrary to God’s will; if God commands it to be moral so shall it be.
But the common theistic response to this argument is to claim that God can command what is moral because it’s consistent with his own moral nature, with this theists may claim victory and say at the very least they’ve shown it to be a false dichotomy by claiming a third option; but the problem may still remain. Let’s take a closer look at this response. Epidemic says if it is even possible that there is a 3rd option then the Euthyphro dilemma is a false dilemma.
“God’s nature, aka his essential properties, is the standard of Goodness”.
So what Epydemic is saying here is that God can command moral acts because it’s consistent and/or essential to his own moral nature, so let’s consider that assertion for a moment – that being God’s moral nature. Now does this escape the problem or is this even a possible 3rd premise (P3); no, not at all! What Epydemic has done here, as well as many others who uses this argument, is what’s known as a fallacy of suppressed-correlative. A fallacy of suppressed-correlative is committed when given a dichotomy of X or Y one makes a definitional argument to which includes both X & Y thereby avoiding any mutually exclusive option from being made, similar to the Nordic based fallacy Loki’s wager.
The theistic response of God commanding what is moral because it is consistent with his moral nature, is just proposition one & two thrown together. So God both commands and is the embodiment of morality. But If God commands what is moral because he is moral by his very nature then this is not only fallacious but also reaffirms the same problem of how we judge moral claims. Remember proposition one, an action is good because it’s good? To say that God can command what is moral because he acts morally means that moral acts are still the basis in how we judge moral claims. A good follow up question to this response would be, well how do you know that God is moral? The answer is obvious, well it’s because God acts morally. BAM! We’ve fallen right back into proposition one.
So we can see that even if we try and avert the problem by making an entirely new claim by including both proposition P1) & P2) together, the problem of P1) still remains. If God’s ‘nature’ is to mean that it is simply consistent with moral acts then moral acts are still inherently good in and of themselves, God is simply consistent with them. But even if a theist tries to obfuscating the use of the term nature and its meaning, as to say it is not how God acts but what God is… then this is just a semantic word salad that just creates more problems for the theist because I would then ask what God’s moral nature is and if they even try to use terms like virtue-moral characteristics then BAM! they’ve again fallen right back into proposition one or the problem of proposition one: moral acts being the basis of how we judge moral claims. So we’ve demonstrated that this 3rd option (P3) does not exist. To anyone who uses this argument, must realize, they haven’t escaped Euthyphro’s Dilemma at all they’ve simply reworded it.