Euthyphro\'s Dilemma

I came across an article recently about Euthyphro's dilemma and what it implies about human ethical systems. Unfortunately it was not in electronic format but here is the gist of the discussion:

Socrates is on his way to his own trial (a trial that will ultimately lead to his death) on the way he runs into Euthyphro who is also on the way to a trial. Euthyphro is on his way to the trial of his own father whom he is personally prosecuting for murder.

SOCRATES: But, in the name of Zeus, Euthyphro, do you think your knowledge about divine laws and holiness and unholiness is so exact that, when the facts are as you say, you are not afraid of doing something unholy yourself in prosecuting your father for murder?
EUTHYPHRO: I should be of no use, Socrates, and Euthyphro would be in no way different from other men, if I did not have exact knowledge about all such things.

The long discussion that follows eventually leads Socrates to ask this question:

holy loved by the gods because it is holy, or is it holy because it is loved by the gods?"

The first option suggests that morality/holiness is determined by some standard that is independent of any gods. The other option is that morality is invented arbitrarily by the god's themselves. The implication for human ethical systems is that if the gods use some standard independent of themselves to determine morality then we do not need gods to function morally. The flipside is that if morality is arbitrarily invented by the gods than to be moral one must serve the arbitrary whims of their God.

Of course if you believe in an all-powerful God then serving their whims might not be entirely unwise. But I have to wonder if any action can ever be said to be moral (or immoral) if the only standard by which one can judge that action is "my God said so."

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Here is a short article that

Here is a short article that describes the dilemma in great detail.

I've always loved the

I've always loved the Euthyphro problem. Students hate it, especially in the South. It's even better than "can God create a rock He can't lift?" because it sort of kills morality and God in a stroke. Morality renders God irrelevant. God makes morality arbitrary. Priceless.

Maybe Plato should have been Philosopher King? (nah.)