June: Philosophy, Theology and Ethics

"It is generally agreed that whatever God wills is good and just. But there remains the question whether it is good and just because God wills it or whether God wills it because it is good and just; in other words, whether justice and goodness are arbitrary or whether they belong to the necessary and eternal truths about the nature of things."                                                                                                                      (Gottfried Leibniz)

This version of the Euthyphro Dilemma, first posited by Plato raises our awareness of the difficulty in talking about morals as we first need to define what we mean by "good."  Jesus, in His conversation with the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22) remarks, "No one is good but One, that is, God."

19th Century philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche caused a stir with his though experiment The Anti-Christ, in which he writes, "What is goo? -- All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself in man.  What is bad? -- All that proceeds from weakness."

Question: What, in your opinion, constitutes a (morally) good action?  Elucidate your answer with examples and consider more than one point of view, including at least one religious perspective.

You may wish to consider:

  • The consequences of actions
  • Intrinsic worth
  • Intention/motive
  • The Euthyphro Dilemma (as above)

Solution