loved. But this doesn’t tell us anything about piety itself, does it? This problem is now called the Euthyphro dilemma. It arises for any religion that makes this claim: Only God decides what is moral. But how does God decide? Either, God can recognize what morality is, and decides to follow what is moral because God is good, Or, God just makes up morality and might change what is moral in the future. The dilemma can be put like this: If you want morality to be based on God’s authority, such a supreme authority could make morality anything it wants morality to be. Right and wrong could have been different, and may change in the future, if God wills it. On the other hand, if you want morality to never change no matter what, even God has to respect morality and morality is the higher authority. Euthyphro doesn’tquite understand the dilemma, but we must. If morality is something more than just what God thinks is right and wrong, then morality exists independently of God (and us humans, too). That puts morality up in the realm of the forms, for Plato –where else could the true virtues be? But if morality is in the realm of the forms, and that realm can be accessed by the human intellect, then people do not necessarily need God to inform them about morality. In fact, people can know morality first, and then pass moral judgment against any God. That is exactly what Plato expects philosophers to do. Socrates does it, in the first three books of the Republic. Socrates again asks Euthyphro to tell him what piety is. Euthyphro is exasperated and tells Socrates so, using a pun on Socrates’ ancestor Daedalus, the great inventor of antiquity, who made wood statues capable of moving all on their own (his son Icarus fell to the sea after flying too close to the sun). After this seemingly strange interlude, Socrates pushes Euthyphro to consider the relationship between piety and justice as a way of getting Euthyphro to tell Socrates what piety is. In asking Euthyphro about this relationship between piety and justice, Socrates is in effect asking Euthyphro if piety is a necessary or sufficient condition for justice. In other words, Socrates is asking whether piety is a part of justice or justice a part of piety. To help Euthyphro understand just what he’s after, Socrates gives a couple examples. The first is
about the relationship between shame and fear. Consider these two options: if someone is fearful, then that person is shameful; and if someone is shameful, then that person is fearful. The first option seems blatantly false. After all, Socrates points out, there are plenty of people who are fearful but are not shameful. The second option, however, seems to be on the mark. People who are shameful are also fearful: they’re namely afraid of getting a bad reputation for doing shameful things. This example illustrates that shame is a sufficient condition for fear, and fear a necessary condition for shame. That is, shame is a part of fear: wherever there is shame, there is fear. Fear is not a part of shame, however.