God as the Grounding of Moral Objecivity: Defending Against Euthyphro

This paper written at an early stage of my postgraduate studies at the University of Sheffield, is a forerunner to Chapter 2 of my PhD Thesis, which interested readers should consult. While this paper shares some of the same material, they are fairly distinct from one another and so I've made both available.


The Euthyphro Dilemma (is x good because God says it''s good, or does God say x is good because it is good?), has been used as an argument against Theistic Ethics for hundreds of years. Plato was the first to use it. Since then Bertrand Russell, Kai Nielsen and many others have sought to really push it home. My aim in this paper is to show that the dilemma (as posed by both Russell and Nielsen) is a false one. Theistic ethics does survive the euthyphro dilemma. I take up and defend Aquinas' position: that God himself (or his nature) is the standard of goodness, and not his commands. This position avoids the dilemma since God's commands / morality will not be arbitrary (since they are/it is rooted in God's nature), and Goodness will not be in any sense anterior to God either.