Intro to Philosophy / Prof. Pruim’s Notes /
Euthyphro and the Argument from Morality / p.
THE ARGUMENT FROM MORALITY TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD,
AND SOCRATES’ CRITICISMS AS FOUND IN
The key idea of this argument is to use morality as evidence for the existence of
That is, the argument begins with the premise that at least some things are morally right,
and others morally wrong (e.g., murder in the first degree, race prejudice, etc,).
then uses this as evidence that God exists, for, it is claimed, only God could be the source of
laws of morality.
Here is a more formal presentation of the argument from morality to the
existence of God.
Three premises are used for the conclusion that a divine lawgiver exists:
There are laws of morality.
That is, there are facts about what is morally
right and morally wrong.
(Just with facts about nature, it is not always easy to discover
them; nevertheless we know some.
E.g., it is wrong to go kill people just to get a thrill
out of it.)
Morality is significantly different from legality, because legality is simply the
product of human decision-making, while morality is not the product of human decision-
Legality, i.e., what is allowed by law, is nothing more than the product of
human decision-making; it is the product of human will.
What is not legal can be made legal
simply by passing a new law, i.e., simply by changing our minds about whether we wish to
Hence, e.g., gambling or slavery can be made legal
Morality is different.
not simply the collective will of people, for, the collective will of the people can sometimes be
(This was certainly the case in the US in the eighteenth century when the majority
wished to hold blacks and indebted individuals in slavery.)
What is immoral can not be made
moral by simply changing our minds about it, by choosing to allow it, by voting for a new law.
E.g., slavery can not be made moral simply by the majority or the authorities deciding (voting)
that it shall be regarded as acceptable.
The enslaving of all short people can not be made moral
simply by the tall people's taking a “pro-attitude” toward it.)
But, moral laws are someone or something’s decisions and commands; for
they are orders, and orders are given by something that has a mind and a will and makes
So, moral laws are the commands from some authority, but one that has an
authority greater than any collection of humans.
Therefore, there does exist some being with a mind and will, which can
issue commands, and which has an authority greater than any state or society, an
authority so great that whatever it commands is our moral duty to obey.
(And so God
exists, for the being described in this conclusion would be a god.)