The Instigator
whatledge
Pro (for)
Losing
11 Points
The Contender
m93samman
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Euthyphro Dilemma: Morality is arbritary

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2010 Category: Religion
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,143 times Debate No: 12138
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (83)
Votes (6)

 

whatledge

Pro

The Euthyphro Dilemma raises the following questions: "Is what is morally good, morally good because god commands it?" or "Is it because it is morally good, god commands it?" The two questions raises a "Dilemma," in that in situation number one, where what is morally good is morally good because god commands it, morality is arbitrary. Where as in situation number two, god commands because it is morally good, it raises the point that morality is separate from god.
In order to say something is "morally good," we must first establish that there is something that separates good from bad. Once we establish this, this means that there is a moral law, which draws the line in between good and bad. Once we established that, we agree that there is a moral law giver, which instilled this moral law. Now if that law is given to us by god, it tells us that the moral law is arbitrary. This becomes a problem in which god can make anything morally good, as he pleases. He can make murder, rape, and theft, morally good at his leisure. Here is the simple response to this "problem." God's moral law cannot and will not be changed. His moral law has already been given to us, and has been revealed through the Holy Scriptures. God has already decided what is good and what is bad, god will not suddenly change this, just because he can. The moral law has been set. Morality is arbitrary, but once we have established that there is a moral law giver, we also establish that morality HAS to be arbitrary.
In the case that society is the moral law giver. It raises the simple problem of perception and diversity. The struggle is evident this very day as people argue about the morality of abortions, gay marriage, and incest. If society is the moral law giver, then morality truly becomes something that is completely liquefied and unstable. God is unchanging; he is the god of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. God is constant and consistent. We, as a society, are not. This simply raises the problem that morality becomes something that is completely gaseous and insecure. Another problem is that morality becomes an opinion rather than something that is absolute. Once morality becomes an opinion, which we are starting to see in this postmodern secular world, then the moral law is broken. Once the moral law is broken, there is no good or bad.
To deduce everything written so far, once we establish that there is something "morally good" and "morally bad." We also establish there is a moral law that separates good and bad. Once we establish that there is a moral law, we also must establish that something gave us this moral law, hence there must be a moral law giver. If there is a moral law giver, morality must have been decided by that moral law giver, and therefore morality must be arbitrary. Once we establish that morality is arbitrary, we come to the fact that the moral law giver must be the unchanging, constant, consistent, eternal, and infinite, and the only being capable of that is God. If the moral law giver is NOT unchanging, constant, eternal, infinite, and consistent, there cannot be a moral LAW (since a law cannot be amended) hence there cannot be morality (good or bad). And if there is no good or bad, the Euthyphro Dilemma self-destructs.

As you have read, I am arguing that morality is arbirtary. There is no Dilemma.
m93samman

Con

I hope this will be an interesting debate. Honestly, I was thinking about it and was excited just from that. So I wish you the best of luck. But before I begin, I take it we can both make these assumptions.

1) God (the morality-giver) has knowledge,
2) God can rationalize, and
3) God uses logical, rational decisions based on the knowledge that he has.

If you object to any of them, let me know in the next round. Otherwise, you can go ahead and present your arguments. Of course, if all your arguments are the ones in round 1, then we'll just cut it a round short and move ahead. Again, I wish you the best of luck =]
Debate Round No. 1
whatledge

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting this challenge, and I look foward to an exciting debate.

"1 God (the morality-giver) has knowledge,
2) God can rationalize, and
3) God uses logical, rational decisions based on the knowledge that he has."

I accept the above attributes.
m93samman

Con

I look forward to this debate as well.

Now, seeing as my opponent accepted the aforementioned attributes, I can make my case.

>>Knowledge<<

This is not so much an argument as much as it is an observation. The point I want to make here is that God understands the physics of the Universe and the system by which it will operate, so he will create it in such a way that there will be an apparently coherent order. This order will be logical such that life won't be paradoxical.

--side note: I am speaking out of the view point of my religion, Islam.

The reason I gave you that side not is because Islam is based on knowledge and rationality, or at least, has an emphatic stress on it. http://www.al-islam.org...

>>Rational<<

Based on the above, we see that order will be the goal we are trying to achieve. Thus, the system of morality that we see is set up as such:

1) Causing harm to another soul is immoral, because of rational provided in the Qura'an and throughout the religion itself, the golden rule, treat others as you wish to be treated. In Islam, it is phrased slightly differently http://nahdaonline.islamicink.com... "None of you are believers until..."

2) Inflicting harm upon oneself is immoral, also justified. Regarding suicide specifically, we have "Allah says explicitly in the Quraan,
"And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you". (Surah An-Nisa Verse 29)
In another verse of the Quraan, Allah says:
"And do not throw yourselves in destruction". (Surah Al-Baqarah Verse 195) " http://www.inter-islam.org...

But then, let's talk about other self-induced harm. In Islam, alcohol and pig's meat are forbidden among many others. The reasons? Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) and loss of brain cells, loss of ability to reason, etc. from alcohol. Pig's meat has been found to be a serious cause of obesity, heart disease (or other circulatory diseases), etc. Before we knew the science behind how this works in our bodies specifically, it was already outlawed in Islam

3) Theft is immoral because you are first, cheating your way to success by taking someone else's, but second, you are damaging someone else's livelihood.

I could go on, but the point is, anything that is immoral by any standard has a logical reason for it, and if you lump all deeds that are immoral together, you will find they have a commonality- they cause some sort of harm, spiritual, physical or otherwise, to a being or multiple beings. A counterpoint would be nice, or go on and give me your rationale. However you pursue this debate, I look forward to it and wish you the best of luck.
Debate Round No. 2
whatledge

Pro

I agree that the moral law has a logical reasoning behind it, but that does not refute the fact that morality is arbitrary.
For instance, I looked at your profile and saw that you were con for drug legalization. I'm sure you have a logical reasoning behind it, but does that change the fact that you are con for drug legalization based on your own arbitrary standard?
In the case of God, since he is omniscient, omnipotent, and the creator, he created what is good, and what is bad. What is morally good was decided (Created) by God based on his own arbitrary standards. Logical reasoning played a role in God's law, I am not disputing that, but that does not refute my resolution that morality is arbitrary.
Already many of God's teachings are slowly being pushed away by the secular worldview. Abortion is now legal, and Gay marriage is working its way up. 50 years ago, both of these things were illegal without question. The Gay Community claims that they were born with homosexuality, and even though there is no biological evidence that there is a "gay gene". I know that I did not choose heterosexuality, I am quite convinced that I was born with the preference of women over men. We can give logical reasoning to justify any of our actions. The fact of the matter is morality is arbitrary by our own standard. If we adopt a theistic view, and choose to believe in God. It starts with throwing away our arbitrary moral standard and submitting to the arbitrary moral standard of God.

My resolution stands. Morality is arbitrary, and the Euthyphro Dilemma is negated.
m93samman

Con

I'll just be addressing two issues. First, "Already many of God's teachings are slowly being pushed away by the secular worldview. Abortion..." Second, "logical" and "rational" as compared with "arbitrary".

>> First issue <<

Very simply, society changes. People's conceptions change. But if something is immoral, societal change doesn't change the morality of it, right? You even said "God is constant and consistent. We, as a society, are not." Thus, since God is the morality-giver (which is an attribute you agreed to), the morality of an act does not change to conform to society's TRULY arbitrary standards. If stealing becomes the 'cool' way to get money, does that make it any less immoral? No. Plain as that.

>> Second issue (the more important one) <<
Pro's term used in describing morality
__________________________
ar�bi�trar�y
adj.
1.
Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle [1]
________________________________________________________________________

My terms used in describing Morality
_____________________________
log�i�cal
–adjective
1.
according to or agreeing with the principles of logic: a logical inference.
2.
reasoning in accordance with the principles of logic, as a person or the mind [2]

ra�tion�al
–adjective
1.
agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development. [3]
________________________________________________________________________

The key word is in the definitions of logical and rational: REASON. If arbitrary means without reason or not by reason, and logical and rational both imply reason, pro can't say "Logical reasoning played a role in God's law, I am not disputing that, but that does not refute my resolution that morality is arbitrary" Since pro isn't disputing my point, then he MUST be disputing his point.

Because, if x = ~y and z = y, then x CANNOT = z. ( the ~ means not in Boolean algebra ) if that doesn't make sense as pertinent to the resolution i'll explain next round, but anyways, we have found the flaw.

Hence, we have a contradiction in pro's position. Reasoning cannot be used in an arbitrary manner, it is a contradiction in it's own nature. The burden is now upon pro to resolve this issue.

Thanks

[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[2] http://dictionary.reference.com...
[3] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 3
whatledge

Pro

"Very simply, society changes. People's conceptions change. But if something is immoral, societal change doesn't change the morality of it, right?"
"You even said "God is constant and consistent. We, as a society, are not."

This in fact, DOES mean that Morality has changed. My abortion and gay marriage example, tells us that society has compromised their morality, it has changed, and it has evolved throughout the years. This makes morality arbitrary, subjective, and relative. It WAS morally WRONG to have an abortion in the past, but now people believe that abortion IS perfectly fine. Society has compromised the moral law, and made something that was illegal (the closest thing to a moral law) into something that is legal. Morality has changed, due to societies own arbitrary moral standard.

"_________________________________________________________
ar•bi•trar•y
adj.
1.
Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle [1]
___________________________________________________________"

I don't like to play with semantics, but here we go.
Note that I def. #5, is a mathematical definition.

1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.
2.
decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute.
3.
having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government.
4.
capricious; unreasonable; unsupported: an arbitrary demand for payment.
5.
Mathematics. undetermined; not assigned a specific value: an arbitrary constant.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com...
Note def. #1, #2, and #3 (the tyrannical part). Arbitrary means ‘subject to individual will'. Me, Myself, and I, can choose to believe legalizing drug as a morally good action. I can justify my action by saying drugs make me feel better about my life. Others can disagree with my moral view, but their moral view is every bit as arbitrary as mine. Who decided it was morally good or morally bad? It was me, myself, and I. The same concept applies to God, no one argued with God when he made something morally good, and something morally wrong (evil). What God decided as evil and good were subjected DIRECTLY to his will. He decided that stealing is evil, murder is evil, and adultery is evil. He decided these things based on his OWN logic, not the logic of everything and everyone in sync. His moral law is based solely on his own decisions, hence it is

"1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision."

It fits with the 3 dictionary definition of arbitrary.
God's Moral Law is arbitrary to his will, his own logic, and his own reasoning.

"My terms used in describing Morality
_____________________________
log•i•cal
–adjective
1.
according to or agreeing with the principles of logic: a logical inference.
2.
reasoning in accordance with the principles of logic, as a person or the mind [2]
_____________________________"

God is not bound by the principles of logic, and the principles of logic are arbitrary themselves, as what X finds logical, Y can disagree and find it illogical. And God created the principles of logic, again, with his arbitrary standards. God did not consult anyone when he created the principles of logic.
1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.

Simply put, EVERYTHING created by God was done through his arbitrary standards and decision. For the simple reason that God does not consult with anyone, he DOES with his own individual will and judgment without restriction.

"_______________________________________________________________________
ra•tion•al
–adjective
1.
agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible: a rational plan for economic development. [3]
________________________________________________________________________"

The very first word in the definition is agreeable. God did not agree to anything or anyone besides HIMSELF.
1. subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.
concept of rationality has been created by God's own arbitrary will.

It seems we have a confusion in the definition of the word.

1.subject to individual will or judgment without restriction; contingent solely upon one's discretion: an arbitrary decision.
2.decided by a judge or arbiter rather than by a law or statute.
3.having unlimited power; uncontrolled or unrestricted by law; despotic; tyrannical: an arbitrary government.
4.capricious; unreasonable; unsupported: an arbitrary demand for payment.
5.Mathematics. undetermined; not assigned a specific value: an arbitrary constant.

6.Determined by chance, whim, or impulse, and not by necessity, reason, or principle: stopped at the first motel we passed, an arbitrary choice.
7.Based on or subject to individual judgment or preference: The diet imposes overall calorie limits, but daily menus are arbitrary.
8.Established by a court or judge rather than by a specific law or statute: an arbitrary penalty.
9.Not limited by law; despotic: the arbitrary rule of a dictator.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com...

I am refering to definitions 1,2,3,7,8,9. opposed to 4,5, and 6.

"Reasoning cannot be used in an arbitrary manner, it is a contradiction in it's own nature. The burden is now upon pro to resolve this issue."

And I have shown that the very concept of "reasoning" is arbitrary in itself. This is so, ESPECIALLY, in God's case, as God, himself, created every logical reasonable concept according to his arbitrary standards. Our main differences were our definition of arbitrary... However, note that in round 1, I have made the definition of arbitrary rather clearly by bringing up the Euthyphro Dilemma. As the Euthyprho Dilemma is about God creating the moral law subjected to his individual will and judgement, rather than the random chance, whim, or impulse.

My resolution still stands: Morality, created (decided) by the moral law giver (God), is arbitrary; as God did not consult anyone, and as I, myself, and the rest of society has not AGREED to God's moral law when it created, morality is arbitrary to God's standard.

It is unfortunate that we had confusion with the definition of arbitrary, but I look forward to my opponents closing statements, and thank him for accepting this challenge.
m93samman

Con

I'm just going to quote my opponent in a few places and show why I have won. I will not post any new arguments because my opponent will not have a chance to respond to them

"...tells us that society has compromised their morality, it has changed, and it has evolved..."
"Morality has changed, due to societies own arbitrary moral standard."
"...can choose to believe legalizing drug as a morally good action. I can justify my action by saying... Others can disagree... but their moral view is every bit as arbitrary as mine. Who decided it was morally good or morally bad? It was me, myself, and I."

Going back to the attributes my opponent conceded to, "1) God (the morality-giver)..."

Clearly, all of that analysis is invalid because if pro's position is that SOCIETY or HE has compromised morality, then it is not the new standard for morality because only the morality-giver can change that. I point out that yes, pro did say "He [God] decided these things based on his OWN logic, not the logic of everything and everyone in sync." But, here is where the debate is to be decided. He did not refute my claims that His logic was not at all arbitrary, but rather based on a system such that "anything that is immoral by any standard has a logical reason for it, and... they have a commonality- they cause some sort of harm, spiritual, physical or otherwise, to a being or multiple beings." (posted in my round 2 argument)

Thus the reason why debating semantics is truly important in this debate, and I thank my opponent for not dropping the semantics argument.

"God is not bound by the principles of logic,"

I agree, God is not bound by the principles of logic, which is always my response to the paradox of the stone. But in this case, I am NOT providing God with boundaries, but rather explaining the rationality of a divine decree THROUGH logic. If God is not bound by logic, doesn't mean some actions (or even all) can be explained through it. There is no contradiction.

"and the principles of logic are arbitrary themselves, as what X finds logical, Y can disagree and find it illogical."

Logic is definitive. Hence the definition "according to or agreeing with the principles of logic"; the principles of logic do not change. And I'm sure my opponent would not refute that claim.

Now, I will take a moment to give my opponent a virtual pat on the back.
"It fits with the 3 dictionary definition of arbitrary.
God's Moral Law is arbitrary to his will, his own logic, and his own reasoning"

It will be hard to refute this, but I will do my best to keep it short and simple. Now, don't get me wrong. I understand this position. But, the resolution does not state "Morality is arbitrary to God's will, logic, and/or reasoning". In that case, I would have not accepted this debate as con. In this specific wording, I am con because I am trying to prove that morality has a very distinct reason that is not arbitrary by chance, and that is not whimsical; for example it is not immoral (at least in Islam, the viewpoint I'm debating from) to not quit work and spend 24 hours a day worshiping Allah. Rather, this is discouraged, because the acquisition of knowledge and wealth is an integral part of Islam, and it is important to be able to provide for the family with which you are living, your services and kindness. So, at the end of the day, the voters have to decide which definition or arbitrary is most applicable to the debate. My opponent advocates "1,2,3,7,8,9. opposed to 4,5, and 6." - of the ones he provided. He intelligently left out 6 because it says "not by necessity, reason, or principle" But notice that the definitions he does support include "one's discretion"; "arbiter"; "tyrannical"; "individual judgement"; "rather than by a specific law"; and "not limited by law". All of these imply irrational, whimsical, or unreasonable, tell me if I am mistaken. Thus, I contend that the contradiction still stands in pro's position, and I extend the argument made at the bottom of round 2 (all immoral deeds have something in common, thus they cannot be arbitrary, but rather decided by solid reasoning and logic). Finally, I urge voters to consider ALL the definitions provided, and see which definitions will make the most sense in context according to their own REASONING, as opposed to by their own arbitrary standards (:P)

I enjoyed this debate more than any other, and I thank my opponent for the insight on the topic. I had never heard of the Euthyphro Dilemma, but they say there's always room to learn.

Once again, thank you. And I hope the voters enjoyed this debate as much as we did.
Debate Round No. 4
83 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
If you are satisfied with any of your responses up until this point, please don't debate anyone, ever. I'm scared for you.

The college life doesn't provide for the time to do online debates. Maybe when I have a holiday, but I still probably won't have time.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
If you are satisfied with that response m93samman, please challenge me to a debate.
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
You do a really good job of evading substance. At the end of my argument, I tell you that you can't compare morality and video game programming. Then, given no apparent warrant, you say that my argument is "wholly insubstantial". Next, you go back to your video game programming analogy. I'm sorry buddy, but I have the freedom to, right now, ignore that entire paragraph. Thus, I'm going to go ahead and do so. I'm am entirely unconvinced anyways.

And for the record, "if the characters within that created world to demand that their creator also be without gravity", nothing has changed. The characters just made a demand. And in religion, we don't demand God to be punished for rape, because 1) he is flawless and can't commit such crimes anyways, and 2) again, what applies to humans doesn't apply to the supernatural. And if you bring up the Holocaust, God did not kill 15-20 million people. The Nazis did, regardless of the existence of such a being, and in the after life they will be judged according to moral law.
And one more thing. If, in a video game that I purchased, say NFL 2011, I tackled a player and then moved my players body up and down on the floor in a molesting-fashion, would the programmers of NFL 2011 punish me? Just wondering..
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
:And THAT, my good friend, is why arbitrary morality and video-game programming are incomparable.

According to a wholly insubstantial argument. If a game designer creates a world where there exists no gravity, would it make any sense if the characters within that created world to demand that their creator also be without gravity? The absence of gravity in the created world may be wholly arbitrary to God, but still absolutely. In fact, there is no good reason for believing that set laws or principles cannot be arbitrary. God is the metric by which morality is known and judged. Just as a scale exists outside of its own measurements, insomuch as it cannot weigh itself, so God exists as not something to be measured, but as the very object by which we measure.

People opinions about morality are completely irrelevant if God has created a moral standard. God is the
Posted by m93samman 6 years ago
m93samman
1) Jat, go to sleep. I don't like waking up at 5am to see I have new emails.
2) InquireTruth, let me try to explain the difference between arbitrary morality and game programming. First, you look at the two phrases and see that they can't be compared by the same standards simply because of the voluminous amount of opinion that is typically attributed to morality. Second, they are in different worlds. When you look at game programming, the programmer lives in a world in which morality/logic has already been preset. He can't create a game in which, for example, rape is not an action that you can achieve by a button combination, and then say "I created this game, so I'll go rape the neighbors' children". But he can create a game in which his CHARACTER can do so. Now, seeing as God is the morality-giver, and God is not exactly a creation of himself (unless you're Christian and you consider Jesus both God and God's son, which poses even more problems, which is why I'm Muslim :P), then God doesn't go around and violate his own laws at will. Sure, some of the individual humans that walk this earth may break those laws. But that doesn't make them morally acceptable. When Gabriel blows his horn, they will be punished for their sins (violations of moral law), given the consistency of moral law. At the same time, I'm not sure that a flood or a bear-mauling could be used in the same sense of the term. I.e. "That tsunami murdered thousands of innocents" doesn't give me the same mental image as "Jack the Ripper was never caught, or even identified, for his brutal tortures and murders." 'Tsunami' and 'Jack the Ripper' should give two different 'murder' pictures in your mind. So I guess this paragraph is directed at both of you.

And THAT, my good friend, is why arbitrary morality and video-game programming are incomparable.
Posted by jat93 6 years ago
jat93
bound by logic*, rape is morally correct*
Posted by jat93 6 years ago
jat93
"but I just fail to see"

Exactly."

I'm sorry, I should have just denied the possibility of those actions not being considered murder (or at least not being considered immoral) outright.

"Plus, this view makes morality arbitrary"

And the problem is?"

You seriously don't recognize the potential problems of "arbitrary morality?" Simply, if God's decisions aren't bound my logic or rationality, we have no reason to trust him - he could very well say/have very well said that rape was morally correct, and it would be. Arbitrary morality certainly has dangerous implications.
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
"but I just fail to see"

Exactly.

"Plus, this view makes morality arbitrary"

And the problem is?

If you think it is unreasonable to believe that a game designer is not bound by his programming, I 'm not sure what to tell you.
Posted by jat93 6 years ago
jat93
"There is a relevant difference between killing and murder."

I recognize that fact, but I just fail to see how the deaths of the children and animals in "the flood", the forty two children mauled by a bear sent by God to punish the children for making fun of a bald man, or the seventy thousand Israelites killed on behalf of David's sin (Samuel 2, chapter 24) cannot be considered murder. Without getting overly accusatory, I think anyone who rationalizes it and deems it anything otherwise must have a warped conception of morality. That, or a subconscious, motivational drive to believe in God's goodness so as not to contradict their belief in God. Mainly the latter, I think. It's called cognitive dissonance - essentially, the uncomfortable feeling created by simultaneously holding two contradictory beliefs. But I think without looking at things through the "religious lenses" and from a purely moral point of view it's easier to see God's murders for how they are.

"Moreover, God is not bound by his own commandments no more than a game designer is bound by his coding."

I've heard this defense before and honestly I don't buy it. I just don't see how we can view God as "good" if he isn't bound by his own "morally good" rules. To have laws that not even the lawgiver obeys makes no sense. A government that imprisons people for a crime while doing the same thing with no remorse and no punishment can only be a flawed one. People would not stand for such a system. It just doesn't make sense... Plus, this view makes morality arbitrary, to some extent, and compromises the view of a righteous God who actions are based on good reasons...
Posted by InquireTruth 6 years ago
InquireTruth
"God, Yahweh, Jehovah, or whatever you call him does not even follow his own 'objective morality.'"

There is a relevant difference between killing and murder. When you conflate the two words you run headlong into error - hopefully not willfully. Moreover, God is not bound by his own commandments no more than a game designer is bound by his coding.
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