Piety Is a Part of Justice

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  • Topic: Euthyphro, Definition, Piety
  • Pages : 3 (813 words )
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  • Published : April 8, 2011
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Piety is a Part of Justice:
Euthyphro’s suggestion that piety is a part of justice is perhaps as close to a definition of piety that we ever receive in the dialogue of Euthyphro. This is because of all the explanations offered by Euthyphro, this one comes closest to measuring piety with a valid, universal standard.

Euthyphro’s first suggestion, that piety is what he is doing now, is not only merely an example, not a definition, but Euthyphro is so pompous as to use himself as the standard with which to measure piety. Of course, no one person should be used as a standard for anything. Individuals are not rigid or stable and certainly not universal. He gives no support to his statement; he simply asserts it, as if it should be obvious. Socrates says that defining piety as, “what [ Euthyphro is] doing now”, is not a sufficient definition because it is simply an example of piety. Something cannot be defined by an example. Euthyphro cannot base a definition of piety on his own actions. He commits the fallacy of self-reference; using his own actions as the standard. The standard Euthyphro gives, (himself), is not specific or universal enough for others to use in judging their own actions. Therefore it fails as a useful standard of piety.

Euthyphro’s second definition is that piety is that which is dear to the gods. In other words, actions that are pleasing to the gods are pious, and actions that are displeasing to them are impious. Socrates pretends to be pleased with this definition because Euthyphro seems as if he may have finally provided a model with which to measure all pious things. Euthyphro states that actions being pleasing to the gods provides a standard that should enable everyone to recognize what is pious and what is impious. Socrates reminds him that piety and impiety are not the same thing, they are opposites. The gods do not seem to agree on much of anything, let alone that which is just or good, and certainly that which is pleasing....
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