Euthyphro The Setting • Time: 399 BCE. • Place: The porch of the King Archon's Court in Athens. • Note: King Archon not the head of the state but one of the nine highest Athenian magistrates. Presided over cases involving charges of impiety and homicide. The Characters Euthyphro • Prosecutor. Socrates • Defendant. • Filing lawsuit. • Being indicted. • Ridiculed for rejecting traditional morality. • Condemned for rejecting traditional theology. How would you describe the personality of each character? The Question • “What is piety, and what is impiety?” • What is Socrates interest in this question? • Does the question matter? For whom? Euthyphro’s 1st Attempt • “Piety is doing as I’m doing; that is to say, prosecuting any one who is guilty of murder, sacrilege, or of any similar crime—whether he be your father or mother, or whoever he may be—that makes no difference; and not to prosecute them is impiety.” • What kinds of values are implied by this definition? What is the problem Socrates has with the 1st definition? • “I did not ask you to give me two or three examples of piety, but to explain the general idea which makes all things pious to be pious.” • Examples illustrate ideas but they are not ideas. Euthyphro’s 2nd Attempt • “Piety, then, is that which is dear to the gods, and impiety is that which is not dear to them.” • What’s the problem Socrates sees with this definition? • “Then the same things are hated by the gods and loved by the gods, and are both hateful and dear to them?...I certainly did not ask you to me what action is both pious and impious: but now it would seem that what is loved by the gods is also hated by them.” Euthyphro’s 3rd Attempt • “I should say that what all the gods love is pious and holy, and the opposite which all hate, impious.” • That which all gods love=Pious. • That which all gods hate=Impious. • That which some gods love and some gods hate=Indeterminate. The Euthyphro Dilemma • Do the gods love piety because it is pious? or • Do the gods approve of/like something because it is good? or • Is it (piety) pious because • Is something good because the gods they love it? approve of/like it? Socrates’ Cumbersome Analogy • Probably used the odd analogies because Socrates had no passive voice available to him. • "The book is being carried" is different from "I am carrying a book." • Something “being loved” is different from something “loving.” • Act vs. State of Being The Implications of the Question • Is piety inherent in an act or thing—that is, an intrinsic aspect of its identity? • Or are acts and things valueless until the gods grant them value? • Where does value come from? • Where does good come from? • What makes something good? 1st Possibility: It is Good Because the Gods Like it • Nothing is inherently right/wrong or good/bad. • Without divinity there would be no right and wrong. • Moral values are arbitrary—that is, they depend on the gods’ preferences. • Humans are slaves, gods are masters. • Humans do good because….. • What, in this framework, is the meaning of morality? 2nd Possibility: The Gods Like It Because It Is Good • Values of right and wrong are absolute and lie outside of the gods’ command. • Values are determined by Natural Law of Reason that even the gods must conform to. • The gods are not omnipotent. • Morality is accessible to human reason. More Definitions • #4: “Piety or holiness, Socrates, appears to me to be that part of justice which attends to the gods.” • (but if the gods have everything they need, what can people provide?) • #5: “Let me simply say that piety or holiness is learning how to please the gods in word and deed, by prayers and sacrifices.” • (so we get benefits from the gods but give them nothing that benefits them? Why would the gods give us anything then?) • #6: “Piety, then, is please to the gods, but not beneficial to them.” • (so we’ve come full circle: piety is what the gods like) Conclusions? • Where is value located? Where does it come from? • Why does it matter whether value is inherent or assigned? • Is piety (and perhaps other ethical concepts) open to question? • How can we build a moral framework on indeterminate values? • From where can we derive moral authority? • When we claim that something is good/bad or right/wrong, what are we saying? On What Basis Can We Make the Claim that…. • Murder is immoral. • Giving to the poor is good. • Incest is wrong. • Keeping promises is good. • It is wrong to speed on the safety corridor. • Being loyal to one’s spouse is good. • It is wrong to wish misfortune on others. • It is good to wish others good fortune.