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"Cosmology, Theology and Meaning" - Tim Maudlin

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  • #31
    Yes, here is the Euthyphro question nojoum:

    Does God will something because it's good, or is something good because God wills it?

    The (I think) Augustinian reply is: Neither. God wills good because he is good (where “is” is the is of identity). He isn't reading the good off something external to him, because he is himself the Good; and his commands aren't arbitrary because they're in line with his own nature. As for the further question of why we ought to follow the Good, the answer is: because the Good is that which of its nature ought to be followed.

    None of this helps you decide on a specific ethical theory and none of this proves that God is the Good. I doubt proof is possible. However, with all your commitments, you might consider a version of the ontological argument. You might at least use it to draw battle lines: either God is the Good, or it's metaphysically impossible that God is the Good. You might at least let it make you nervous.
    Last edited by John West; 04-12-2019, 11:48 PM.

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    • #32
      I don't know why my reply was not clear enough. But I meant to say that I will wait one week more for FZM before making any further discussion. So thanks for your replies, but I will wait another week before having further discussion.
      Last edited by nojoum; 04-13-2019, 07:29 AM.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by nojoum View Post
        Dear Atno,
        Thank you very much for taking the time to give a detailed reply. Unfortunately, none of your arguments, except F, seem to be addressing the euthyphro dillemma. At best your arguments would demonstrate that God is moral, yet they fall short of proving that God himself is the foundation of morality (i.e, that Moral standards are not external to God). I would be happy to pick up the conversation later while being focused specifically on the euthyphro dilemma.
        Originally posted by nojoum View Post
        I don't know why repliy was not clear enough. But I meant to say that I will wait one week more for FZM before making any further discussion. So thanks for your replies, but I will wait another week before having further discussion.
        Come on, now. You can't just reply to Atno like that and not expect him to speak up for himself!

        And me. Well, okay. Mea culpa. Just treat my post as footnotes to Atno whenever you get around to replying.
        Last edited by John West; 04-13-2019, 07:34 AM.

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        • #34
          Hi Nojoum,

          I didn't realise you were still expecting a reply from me... I had a few ideas but there were quite a few different posts following my last one and I saw the thread going in some other directions. I got thinking about the Euthyphro dilemma, for example. Feel free to reply to John and Atno if you want to. I should be able to post some kind of reply next week.

          I might post about Euthyphro first though.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by John West View Post
            Yes, here is the Euthyphro question nojoum:

            Does God will something because it's good, or is something good because God wills it?

            The (I think) Augustinian reply is: Neither. God wills good because he is good (where “is” is the is of identity). He isn't reading the good off something external to him, because he is himself the Good; and his commands aren't arbitrary because they're in line with his own nature. As for the further question of why we ought to follow the Good, the answer is: because the Good is that which of its nature ought to be followed.

            None of this helps you decide on a specific ethical theory and none of this proves that God is the Good. I doubt proof is possible. However, with all your commitments, you might consider a version of the ontological argument. You might at least use it to draw battle lines: either God is the Good, or it's metaphysically impossible that God is the Good. You might at least let it make you nervous.
            I have seen some different formulations of Euthyphro, they are all similar but I suppose may make it more or less specific; Do the gods love things because they are pious, or is what the gods love pious? Is what God commands good or does God command what is good? (The latter the one I have come across most often, mainly from atheists arguing against theistic morality).

            The thing that strikes me most about it is that it is an argument for some kind of moral Platonism. It seems that in the context of Thomism (and other types of classical theism) the question would be about how, and where, the standards of goodness exist. Thomists, and Augustinians as well as far as I know, deny that there is reason to believe that there are independently existing Platonic forms in a 'third realm'. These abstractions have to exist in minds and all minds either are God or derive their being and content from God. Given Divine Simplicity if they are in God they are God, so as you said, God would again end up the standard and criteria of the Good.

            Besides the issue with general arguments for and against the independent existence of Platonic forms, some Thomistic/Aristotelian critiques of using the 'Form of the Good' as the standard of morality are that vagueness and abstraction become the key criteria for goodness. Where our knowledge of the content of the 'Form of the Good' comes from is another issue. On the face of it, it seems like deciding what is contained in the form of the Good could end up being arbitrary, or say, whatever a person loves or finds desirable.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by FZM View Post
              Hi Nojoum,

              I didn't realise you were still expecting a reply from me... I had a few ideas but there were quite a few different posts following my last one and I saw the thread going in some other directions. I got thinking about the Euthyphro dilemma, for example. Feel free to reply to John and Atno if you want to. I should be able to post some kind of reply next week.

              I might post about Euthyphro first though.
              Hi FZM,

              My discussion with you started from Euthyphro dillema but then further developed into discussing the details of Thomistic Ethics. Thus, our discussion is currently on a different point (but ultimately the conclusion to the current discussion will have a bearing on the answer to the euthyphro dilemma). Therefore, I would appreciate if we keep the discussion limited to what I said mainly in Post #20, but also Post #18, 22 as they provide some clarifications to my moral intuition. Consequently, I will refrain from discussing with Atno and John until our discussion reaches a conclusion.
              Last edited by nojoum; 04-13-2019, 11:49 AM.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by FZM
                The thing that strikes me most about it is that it is an argument for some kind of moral Platonism. It seems that in the context of Thomism (and other types of classical theism) the question would be about how, and where, the standards of goodness exist. Thomists, and Augustinians as well as far as I know, deny that there is reason to believe that there are independently existing Platonic forms in a 'third realm'. These abstractions have to exist in minds and all minds either are God or derive their being and content from God. Given Divine Simplicity if they are in God they are God, so as you said, God would again end up the standard and criteria of the Good.

                Besides the issue with general arguments for and against the independent existence of Platonic forms, some Thomistic/Aristotelian critiques of using the 'Form of the Good' as the standard of morality are that vagueness and abstraction become the key criteria for goodness. Where our knowledge of the content of the 'Form of the Good' comes from is another issue. On the face of it, it seems like deciding what is contained in the form of the Good could end up being arbitrary, or say, whatever a person loves or finds desirable.
                One of the clever things about the Augustinian solution is that it combines the Source of Good with the Source of Being, so that the same light that constitutes goodness in the world also constitutes creation. We should perhaps expect something like natural law theory to be true if that is the case (for the line between goodness and creation to vanish and the very natures of things and following thereof to be good).

                You're probably right that this is compatible with more than one ethical theory, but it still goes to show how taking the old saying that Thomas was an Aristotelian on earth and a Platonist in heaven seriously can help even Thomists. Now if only I could convince people to look at other scholastics as well. . .

                (I'm not sure how an old fashioned Platonist or Neoplatonist would reply to all this. I'm inclined to agree with Reale that many were heavily influenced by Pythagorean metaphysics and held to a much more theistic view of the One, the Dyad, etc., than contemporary “Platonists” that split everything up into various abstract forms. Do I care about contemporary "Platonists"? I guess I have to.)

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                • #38
                  Unfortunate name—Maudlin.

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