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Old 02-17-2017, 06:16 AM   #1
Mightyboosh
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Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

So I'm sure we're all familiar with the Euthyphro dilemma, and with the Theist counter that since god is 'by nature' good, morality is not arbitrary, god could not have said something is good when it's bad, nor does he have to refer to some external standard of good.

I think that makes two assumptions, one is that god is omnibenevolent, and the other is that 'good' is a characteristic that would be maximal in the greatest conceivable being because 'good' is better than 'not good'. It's the second assumption that I want to focus on. What if we're wrong about that and good is not actually the greater characteristic, what if evil is actually a more desirable characteristic? Yes, the bible supports that we should aspire to 'good', but the type of thinking that we see in arguments like the Ontological argument simply assume that it's better than 'not good'. Is 'good is greater' just a presupposition? Does what we actually observe support that god is not actually good? As a hypothesis, I think it's internally and externally consistent.

Gonna stop there, see what you all think.

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Old 02-17-2017, 06:30 AM   #2
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
So I'm sure we're all familiar with the Euthyphro dilemma, and with the Theist counter that since god is 'by nature' good, morality is not arbitrary, god could not have said something is good when it's bad, nor does he have to refer to some external standard of good.

I think that makes two assumptions, one is that god is omnibenevolent, and the other is that 'good' is a characteristic that would be maximal in the greatest conceivable being because 'good' is better than 'not good'. It's the second assumption that I want to focus on. What if we're wrong about that and good is not actually the greater characteristic, what if evil is actually a more desirable characteristic?
Thats the meaning of "good". "good" is defined as something that is better than "not good". If evil was a more desirable characteristic, it would be called "good".
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Old 02-17-2017, 08:16 AM   #3
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Thats the meaning of "good". "good" is defined as something that is better than "not good". If evil was a more desirable characteristic, it would be called "good".
Bad is not Good, we have different ways of labeling them because they're different things. It might be Good to be Bad, but you're not being Good.

Don't forget the claim is that god is the 'greatest conceivable being' ... We're assuming that Good is greater than some alternative way of being (e.g Bad). We aspire to Good things like love, generosity, tolerance, happiness etc, but what if they're not actually the greatest conceivable characteristics, what if instead we should be aspiring to be mean, an intolerant and selfish and viscous and to cause suffering because that is, in practice, the example that god is setting? It would explain the Problem of Evil. We're presupposing that to be Good is the best option and then projecting that onto god.
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Old 02-18-2017, 06:51 AM   #4
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Bad is not Good, we have different ways of labeling them because they're different things. It might be Good to be Bad, but you're not being Good.
Right, but either I am misunderstanding your point, or your point is "bad could be good"

You are saying maybe evil is actually more desirable than good. But something is only desirable if its good, therefore what you are saying is "bad is actually good"
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Old 02-18-2017, 02:35 PM   #5
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
So I'm sure we're all familiar with the Euthyphro dilemma, and with the Theist counter that since god is 'by nature' good, morality is not arbitrary, god could not have said something is good when it's bad, nor does he have to refer to some external standard of good.
I'm not familiar with this counter. I also don't see that it works to reject the dilemma. Do you have a direct quote of this argument?

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I think that makes two assumptions, one is that god is omnibenevolent,
That appears to be an explicit premise of the argument ("god is 'by nature' good") rather than an assumption.

Quote:

and the other is that 'good' is a characteristic that would be maximal in the greatest conceivable being because 'good' is better than 'not good'.
Why is that assumed in the argument you presented? I mean, I'm sure pretty much all theists believe that god is maximally good, but I don't see that it has bearing on challenging the Euthyphro dilemma.

Quote:

It's the second assumption that I want to focus on. What if we're wrong about that and good is not actually the greater characteristic, what if evil is actually a more desirable characteristic? Yes, the bible supports that we should aspire to 'good', but the type of thinking that we see in arguments like the Ontological argument simply assume that it's better than 'not good'. Is 'good is greater' just a presupposition? Does what we actually observe support that god is not actually good? As a hypothesis, I think it's internally and externally consistent.

Gonna stop there, see what you all think.
I'm with neeeel on this. I think the straightforward meaning of 'good' entails that it is better than 'bad'.
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Old 02-18-2017, 09:23 PM   #6
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

It's probably worth reframing the dilemma with no reference to 'good' (since we can end up with weird recursive "is goodness good" digressions), and using a specific action:

Quote:
Does god hate murder because murder is morally wrong, or is murder morally wrong because god hates it?
Now, if we apply the point about god's nature, it doesn't really help. The dilemma becomes the following:

Quote:
Is it in god's nature to hate murder because murder is morally wrong, or is murder morally wrong because it is in god's nature to hate it?
All that's happened is that the dilemma gets pushed back a step.
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Old 02-19-2017, 09:54 AM   #7
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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I'm not familiar with this counter. I also don't see that it works to reject the dilemma. Do you have a direct quote of this argument?
I can't find the page where I originally saw this, but this letter/answer on WLC's site is pretty much the same thing. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/euthyphro-dilemma

He defends that premise by saying that "God is the greatest conceivable being, and it is greater to be the paradigm of goodness than to conform to it."


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That appears to be an explicit premise of the argument ("god is 'by nature' good") rather than an assumption.
Yes it is a premise, but I'm saying that it's an assumption, not only because it's truth value can't practically be ascertained but because it may not be logically possible to support that claim. And that's my question, why do we assume that being 'good' is characteristic that a maximal being would have?

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Originally Posted by zumby View Post

Why is that assumed in the argument you presented? I mean, I'm sure pretty much all theists believe that god is maximally good, but I don't see that it has bearing on challenging the Euthyphro dilemma.
It's relevant because if god is 'good by nature' then he can't say that something is bad when it isn't, so his moral pronouncements are not a reference to an external source, not or they arbitrary.


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I'm with neeeel on this. I think the straightforward meaning of 'good' entails that it is better than 'bad'.
I don't think that 'good' means 'whatever characteristic it is best to have', I would use the word 'desirable' to describe that. And what is desirable, is to be good. That's what I'm questioning, how did we decide that 'good' is the most desirable characteristic?
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Old 02-20-2017, 04:37 AM   #8
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
So I'm sure we're all familiar with the Euthyphro dilemma, and with the Theist counter that since god is 'by nature' good, morality is not arbitrary, god could not have said something is good when it's bad, nor does he have to refer to some external standard of good.

I think that makes two assumptions, one is that god is omnibenevolent, and the other is that 'good' is a characteristic that would be maximal in the greatest conceivable being because 'good' is better than 'not good'. It's the second assumption that I want to focus on. What if we're wrong about that and good is not actually the greater characteristic, what if evil is actually a more desirable characteristic? Yes, the bible supports that we should aspire to 'good', but the type of thinking that we see in arguments like the Ontological argument simply assume that it's better than 'not good'. Is 'good is greater' just a presupposition? Does what we actually observe support that god is not actually good? As a hypothesis, I think it's internally and externally consistent.

Gonna stop there, see what you all think.
Is it really a dilemma though? I have yet to see a religion where "God" is equal to the humans supposed to worship him.

We would, for example, presumably have different standards of "good" when it comes to the behavior of a soldier versus that of a doctor.
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Old 02-20-2017, 08:57 AM   #9
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Is it really a dilemma though? I have yet to see a religion where "God" is equal to the humans supposed to worship him.

We would, for example, presumably have different standards of "good" when it comes to the behavior of a soldier versus that of a doctor.
Not sure what you mean. The dilemma relates to Divine command theory.
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:53 AM   #10
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Not sure what you mean. The dilemma relates to Divine command theory.
What I mean is that it can be good that God commands what is good, thus there is no dilemma. And there doesn't have to be a paradox, because the criteria for "god" and "human" could be different.

As a hypothetical of course, I don't believe in God.
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Old 02-20-2017, 09:58 AM   #11
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

An analogy could be that a good general gives good orders, a good soldier follows good orders. The distinction doesn't mean the term good breaks down.
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Old 02-20-2017, 11:03 AM   #12
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by tame_deuces View Post
An analogy could be that a good general gives good orders, a good soldier follows good orders. The distinction doesn't mean the term good breaks down.
What you're describing is the Christian counter to the dilemma. God is good by nature (because a maximal being would be the most of whatever characteristic it is best to be) so he can only say something is good, if it is. So his moral values are not arbitrary.

What I'm asking is what if 'good' is not the characteristic that it's best to be? What if we're wrong about that? It's only an assumption after all.
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Old 02-20-2017, 12:26 PM   #13
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
What I'm asking is what if 'good' is not the characteristic that it's best to be? What if we're wrong about that? It's only an assumption after all.
What is we redefine words to mean things other than how we use them? It turns out that we will just end up using different words. There are plenty of interesting ways to take the conversation. This is not one of them. The intentional conflation of terminology isn't going to result in anything useful here.

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Thats the meaning of "good". "good" is defined as something that is better than "not good". If evil was a more desirable characteristic, it would be called "good".
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Originally Posted by zumby View Post
I'm with neeeel on this. I think the straightforward meaning of 'good' entails that it is better than 'bad'.
I would encourage that "good" not actually be used, but just stick with words like "desirable" and "the thing you ought to do" and "that which God commands people to do" and see if the problem clears itself up.
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Old 02-21-2017, 04:25 PM   #14
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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What you're describing is the Christian counter to the dilemma. God is good by nature (because a maximal being would be the most of whatever characteristic it is best to be) so he can only say something is good, if it is. So his moral values are not arbitrary.

What I'm asking is what if 'good' is not the characteristic that it's best to be? What if we're wrong about that? It's only an assumption after all.
No, that is not a counter to the dilemma, that is choosing one of the options. It also not what I am saying at all.

I'm saying it can be both options, without it being neither a dilemma nor a paradox. All you need are different "frames of morality". Not allowing your dog to sleep in a bed doesn't make you bad, not allowing your son to sleep in a bed does, and so forth.

Like the problem of evil, these discussion aren't that interesting to the topic of deities. They're so squarely in the hypothetical and beyond experience that they really serve little purpose.

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Old 02-22-2017, 10:40 AM   #15
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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No, that is not a counter to the dilemma, that is choosing one of the options. It also not what I am saying at all.

I'm saying it can be both options, without it being neither a dilemma nor a paradox. All you need are different "frames of morality". Not allowing your dog to sleep in a bed doesn't make you bad, not allowing your son to sleep in a bed does, and so forth.

Like the problem of evil, these discussion aren't that interesting to the topic of deities. They're so squarely in the hypothetical and beyond experience that they really serve little purpose.
There can't be different "frames of morality" because Christian morality is Objective and the source is god.

The dilemma is that god's moral proclamations are either arbitrary or referenced to an external source. The counter is that they're neither, that god is by nature good and so if he says something is good, or bad, it could be no other way.

I'm questioning whether or not 'good' is actually the most desirable characteristic that a maximal being could possess.
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Old 02-22-2017, 05:00 PM   #16
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post

I'm questioning whether or not 'good' is actually the most desirable characteristic that a maximal being could possess.
At least 3 people have brought up that this doesnt make sense. But you carry on with it anyway, as if no one has
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Old 02-23-2017, 04:22 AM   #17
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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There can't be different "frames of morality" because Christian morality is Objective and the source is god.

The dilemma is that god's moral proclamations are either arbitrary or referenced to an external source. The counter is that they're neither, that god is by nature good and so if he says something is good, or bad, it could be no other way.

I'm questioning whether or not 'good' is actually the most desirable characteristic that a maximal being could possess.
Your first sentence seems misguided. There is no conflict between those two.

As for the third claim: If changing the words changes the point, you're not saying the same thing anymore. If you change "Joe does not like Democrats" to "Joe does not like Republicans" then you are no longer arguing the same point. And sure, you can argue that Democrats are really the Republicans and that this is about what Joe really means, but there are ways of making that point that doesn't involve switching words or confusing people.

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Old 02-23-2017, 07:43 AM   #18
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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At least 3 people have brought up that this doesnt make sense. But you carry on with it anyway, as if no one has
I understand the objection and I don't agree with it. The idea of Good, the concept that Good describes and represents doesn't change depending on what we find desirable or not, that's kinda the point of an Objective source of morality. It's Good or it's not.

We assign this characteristic of Good to god because we think that maximal being would have the most desirable characteristics, and from the choice of Good or Bad, two mutually exclusive values, we think he would be Good, because Good is better than Bad. What if we're wrong about that.
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Old 02-23-2017, 07:47 AM   #19
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by tame_deuces View Post
Your first sentence seems misguided. There is no conflict between those two.
Then I'm not understanding what you mean by '"frames of morality".

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Originally Posted by tame_deuces View Post
As for the third claim: If changing the words changes the point, you're not saying the same thing anymore. If you change "Joe does not like Democrats" to "Joe does not like Republicans" then you are no longer arguing the same point. And sure, you can argue that Democrats are really the Republicans and that this is about what Joe really means, but there are ways of making that point that doesn't involve switching words or confusing people.
In this analogy, it's the verb 'to like' that would the important element. We agree what that means and we don't try to change it, 'like' can't mean 'don't like', and that's what I think is happening when we talk about Good. People are saying that whatever god does best is 'good', and I don't agree. Good means something specific.
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Old 02-23-2017, 10:31 AM   #20
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
I understand the objection and I don't agree with it.
Consider the following:

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I don't like spinach. I'm glad I don't like spinach. If I liked it, I would eat it, and spinach is horrible.
Do you see why this quote is supposed to be funny?
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Old 02-23-2017, 10:59 AM   #21
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
I can't find the page where I originally saw this, but this letter/answer on WLC's site is pretty much the same thing. http://www.reasonablefaith.org/euthyphro-dilemma
Perfect, thanks.

Quote:

He defends that premise by saying that "God is the greatest conceivable being, and it is greater to be the paradigm of goodness than to conform to it."
Well this is debatable. Being the paradigm of goodness doesn't mean much if goodness is identical with gods opinions (or whatever).

Quote:

Yes it is a premise, but I'm saying that it's an assumption, not only because it's truth value can't practically be ascertained but because it may not be logically possible to support that claim. And that's my question, why do we assume that being 'good' is characteristic that a maximal being would have?
See other responses ITT.

Quote:

It's relevant because if god is 'good by nature' then he can't say that something is bad when it isn't, so his moral pronouncements are not a reference to an external source, not or they arbitrary.
This doesn't follow. As I said, it's just pushed back a step. Is god's nature good because it is conforms to an objective standard, or is 'good' good because it is god's nature? Either way, god's moral pronouncements can be infallible: 1) god's pronouncements are true because 'good' just means what god (via his nature) says or 2) god's pronouncements are true because he exemplifies an objective standard (which includes 'doesn't tell falsehoods').

Quote:

I don't think that 'good' means 'whatever characteristic it is best to have', I would use the word 'desirable' to describe that. And what is desirable, is to be good. That's what I'm questioning, how did we decide that 'good' is the most desirable characteristic?
You seem to be moving between the noun and adjective use of 'good' a ton, which is probably not helping.

adjective
1.
to be desired or approved of.

noun
1.
that which is morally right; righteousness.

I'd suggest taking Aaron's advice:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron
I would encourage that "good" not actually be used, but just stick with words like "desirable" and "the thing you ought to do" and "that which God commands people to do" and see if the problem clears itself up.
(This is also why I used the specific example of murder in my original response).
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Old 02-23-2017, 11:55 AM   #22
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

It seems to be somewhat trivial to distinguish between God either being good because he's the only one who can define it, or because he's bound by an objective standard of goodness that he adheres to, since finding that objective standard is near if not outright impossible.

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Old 03-01-2017, 05:37 AM   #23
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Consider the following:
Quote:

I don't like spinach. I'm glad I don't like spinach. If I liked it, I would eat it, and spinach is horrible.
Do you see why this quote is supposed to be funny?
I think so. But that's a subjective value judgement, that spinach is horrible. The next person might disagree and find it pleasant. And that's my point. Our judgment that Good is the characteristic that a maximal being would have, to the maximal value of Good, is based entirely on our subjective view that Good is better than 'Bad'. I'm only using Good and Bad as nouns in this post. I had already switched to using 'desirable' when I needed an adjective, without seeing Aaron's post, to try to avoid confusion.

It seems that the objection to what I'm saying is that whatever god does, that's what we'll call 'Good', so to say 'Is it really Good?' is a meaningless question. But if we take Good as meaning "that which is morally right; righteousness" as opposed to things that we agree aren't Good, such as anything the Devil would do, then the question "Is Good actually the more desirable characteristic from a choice of Good or Bad' has a meaning, no? Perhaps we've been assigning this characteristic of Good to god mistakenly because Bad is actually the more desirable characteristic. Why do we think that God is Good?

I know I might be completely missing the meaning of the objection to my question, and it might seem that in my lack of understanding I'm just brushing it aside because I think that you simply don't understand my point.... but I promise that's not what is happening. I know you understand, I'm trying to figure out why I'm wrong.
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:37 PM   #24
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by tame_deuces View Post
What I mean is that it can be good that God commands what is good, thus there is no dilemma. And there doesn't have to be a paradox, because the criteria for "god" and "human" could be different.


The first sentence is circular - basically a condensation of the WLC response. It doesn't resolve anything.

Differing moral criteria for God and humans would still just be part of the same overall standard, so doesn't address the dilemma.
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Old 03-01-2017, 07:57 PM   #25
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Re: Euthyphro dilemma - thinking about the Theist 'god is good by nature' counter

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Originally Posted by Mightyboosh View Post
It seems that the objection to what I'm saying is that whatever god does, that's what we'll call 'Good', so to say 'Is it really Good?' is a meaningless question. But if we take Good as meaning "that which is morally right; righteousness" as opposed to things that we agree aren't Good, such as anything the Devil would do, then the question "Is Good actually the more desirable characteristic from a choice of Good or Bad' has a meaning, no? Perhaps we've been assigning this characteristic of Good to god mistakenly because Bad is actually the more desirable characteristic. Why do we think that God is Good?


It would help if you explained what you mean by desirable, but I think I agree with what you are probably trying to say. I think any attempt to objectify "the good"/morality just leads to a standard that is necessarily arbitrary. DCT is just one example of that.
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