Ratio 24 (2):206-221 (2011)

Robin Le Poidevin
University of Leeds
A familiar problem is here viewed from an unfamiliar angle. The familiar problem is the Euthyphro dilemma: if God wills something because it is good, then goodness is independent of God, so God becomes, morally speaking, de trop. On the other hand, if something is good because God wills it, then, given the absence of constraint on what God may will, moral truths are – counterintuitively – contingent. An examination of the kinds of necessity and possibility at work in this conundrum leads us to the most promising solution: there is a metaphysical connection between God and goodness. What he wills is an expression of his nature. But (and this is the unfamiliar angle), that solution now poses an acute problem for an understanding of the Incarnation. For if God is constitutive of goodness, and Christ is God incarnate, then Christ is constitutive of goodness. But Christ, as a human, is subject to external moral evaluation and obligation, which entails that he is not constitutive of goodness. This metaethical difficulty is not easily met by the usual strategies by which Christ is understood to have two natures. Reflection on our moral relations to our past selves, however, suggests a way forward
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9329.2011.00494.x
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