John C. Wright (johncwright) wrote,
John C. Wright

Euthyphro’s Dilemma and the Paradox of Paternity

Part of an ongoing discussion. A reader with the alliterative name of Randall Randall writes:

“Even granting that God exists and created everything but
himself, who is eternal, it doesn’t follow that morality is objective,
merely that he has the power to enforce what he wants.

Mr Wright said: “Moral standards come from a moral authority,
that is, from a sovereign will which has the ability to make moral
choices and the authority to demand acquiescence thereto, whether the
power to enforce that command is present or not

But what gives *that* entity moral authority? There’s an implied infinite regress, here.

Unless you assume from the start that God is a moral authority, what could possibly convince you that he is?”

My comment: There are two questions here, and let us not mix them.
The first, which we might call the Objectivity Question, is whether
objective moral standards exist at all. The second, which we might call
‘Euthyphro’s Dilemma’ is whether God is a moral authority.

Euthyphro’s dilemma was posed by Socrates in the Platonic Dialog of
the same name, asking whether the gods will the good because it is good,
or whether whatever the gods will is good because the gods so will. If
the gods willed evil, would evil become good?

The Christian answer is always that ‘good’ and ‘God’ are two words
for one thing, and thus the distinction exists in speech only, not in
reality. It is like asking whether light is bright because brightness is
light or because lightness is bright? If light were darkness, would
brightness become dim? The question is meaningless.

So, yes indeed, unless you assume from the start that light is bright, it is hard to see why one should so conclude.

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