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Friday, October 23, 2015

God and the Source of Morality — Part I

By Massimo Pigliucci
The Philosophers' Magazine online
Originally published October 5, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Why, exactly, is this a problem for those, like Euthyphro, who think gods are the ultimate source of morality? Because if one takes the first horn — what Levin calls the “pure will” theory — then one essentially admits that morality is a matter of might makes right. If God decides that genocide and rape are permissible, then they are permissible, period. (This, as is well known, does in fact happens in several places in the Old Testament, but that’s another story.)

Recoiling from so uncomfortable an admission, Euthyphro tries the second horn, what Levin calls the “guided will” theory. But here the problem is that this route implicitly admits that there are moral standards that are external to God himself, so that morality does not, then, originate from him. (And a corollary of this conclusion is that we mortals may not need the “middle God,” so to speak, to figure out what is and isn’t moral, we can arrive at it via other sources, for instance by philosophical inquiry.)

The entire article is here.

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