Piety: Lending a Hand to Euthyphro

Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 58 (1):123-142 (1998)
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Many philosophers take the point of Plato's Euthyphro to be an indictment of attempts to ground morality in religion, specifically in the attitudes of a deity or deities. It has been argued cogently in recent essays that Plato's case is far from conclusive. This essay suggests instead that the Euthyphro can be read more narrowly as raising critical questions about a specific religious virtue, Piety. Then it presents the ingredients of a reply to those questions. The reply proceeds by suggesting that one need not accept the standards of definition used by Plato, and that one can provide an explanation of what Piety is by embedding Piety in a more comprehensive picture of the human, the divine, and the relations between the two. The picture makes use of a doctrine of divine sovereignty and a doctrine concerning love between God and humans.



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