Plato's Euthyphro

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Euthyphro's second definition of piety is what is pleasing to the gods. Socrates agrees with this definition because it is expressed in a general form, but criticizes because the gods disagree among themselves as to what is right. This would mean that a particular action, disputed by the gods, would be both pious and impious at the same time and this is a logically impossible situation. Euthyphro tries to argue against Socrates' criticism by pointing out that not even the gods would disagree amongst themselves that someone who kills without justification should be punished but Socrates argues that disputes would still arise over just how much justification there actually was and therefore the same action could still be both pious and impious. Socrates yet again believes Euthyphro's 'definition' cannot possibly be a definition. Euthyphro attempts to overcome Socrates' objection by slightly amending his second definition. Euthyphro’s third definition says that what all the gods love is pious, and what they all hate is impious. At this point Socrates introduces the "Euthyphro problem" by asking the essential question: "Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" This Socratic technique is an analogy or comparison in this instance, is used to make his question clearer. He gets Euthyphro to agree that we call a carried thing "carried" simply because it is carried, not because it possesses some special trait or property that we could call "carried". That is, being carried is not an essential characteristic of the thing carried; being carried is a state. Similarly, with piety, if defined as "what is liked by the gods.” It is liked for some reason, not just because it is liked, so that one likes it, by itself, does not make an action pious. The liking must follow from recognition that an action is pious, not the other way around. Thus the piety comes before the liking both temporally and logically, yet in...
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