today’s legal system Summary

Euthyphro was going to turn in his father, because due to negligence, an accused murderer died. In today’s legal system, if this ever got to trial, the verdict would more than likely be voluntary manslaughter and the sentence – probation. Euthyphro was wrong to pursue this course of action for several reasons. First, under Athenian law it was neither his place nor his concern. According to the conversation, only the deceased’s family could bring charges. Second, his father was obviously a law abiding citizen, as he had called the authorities on the accused murderer.He also was a man who respected the gods as he waited for their representatives to help decide the case. His actions could clearly be defined as righteous anger, something that gods’ love – therefore it would be considered a pious act by Euthyphro’s definition. If the death of a murderer results from a pious act- then the death is a product of piety and therefore also loved by the gods. Thus, there is no reason to have his father prosecuted and as Socrates himself points out Euthyphro himself could be accused of impiety by accusing his father.The circular logic that is used to question Euthyphro is an attempt to show how the acceptance of easy answers to difficult problems is something no one should ever do. In rejecting the first as an example of piety and not a definition he is trying to show Euthyphro that if the definition of piety is truly “something that is loved by all the gods”, then care must be exercised in defining what a god truly loves or wants. While examples can be shown of what gods want, or what gods love, it cannot be truly known if a certain action is pious unless a god comes down and states whether or not he loves it.Euthyphro’s next answer nears what Socrates is seeking, but he uses Euthyphro’s error as a lesson. He’s trying to show that answers should be thought through, and logic applied before pronouncing an answer to be correct. This is a great lesson in the fact that “pat” answers are seldom the right answers. This is also an attempt to wipe away some of Euthyphro’s smugness, a feat best left to the gods. The final answer, that piety is that which is loved by all the gods and impiety is that which is hated by all the gods, seems to satisfy Socrates only momentarily. While this is where he wanted Euthyphro, is not the point he is trying to make.In his final question, “whether the pious or holy is beloved by the gods because it is holy or holy because it is beloved of the gods”, he finally reveals the meaning of the entire dialogue. He also causes Euthyphro to momentarily falter in his thoughts, although he recovers and quickly takes his leave. This is a lesson in itself-when confronted with a true test of beliefs, those who feel their ideas are the only correct ones, are usually the first to back down in an argument. While the answer to Socrates’ query on the meaning of piety has never been truly answered, it is a fine example of the reason that he was on trial for impiety.This dialogue shows how much of a free thinker he was. He takes no prisoners, and there is nothing that cannot be discussed or questioned. This is the corruption of youth he was accused of—making them think beyond conventional wisdom and question that which is taken as absolutes.ReferencesWoodruff , Paul, “Plato’s shorter ethical workds”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2003 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed. ), URL = http://plato. stanford. edu/entries/plato-ethics-shorter/