Several weeks ago, I had a light-hearted exchange on Twitter with the Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies department of a local secondary school.

The account had tweeted a reminder to students not to forget their homework on Plato’s Euthyphro, which contains a well-known theological dilemma: “Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?”

I replied, teasingly, asking if the teacher assigns homework because it is important or is homework important because the teacher assigns it.

Beyond the geeky banter, I was struck that Euthyphro’s dilemma, given a few modifications, can be usefully applied in analysing the impact of party loyalties on how we talk about politics.

Do we regard a policy as good simply because our favoured party proposed it, or do we believe the party proposed it because it is a good policy?

If we think the policy is sound simply because we support the party that proposed it, we risk engaging in an uncritical way of thinking that can lead to labelling a good policy as bad simply because it was proposed by a political opponent.

Given the tribal nature of Scottish politics, this irrational form of understanding is sadly all too common.

Two weeks ago, the First Minister announced this year’s Programme for Government. This is Holyrood’s equivalent of Westminster’s Queen’s Speech, minus the tiaras and golden carriage.

In total, 16 new Bills were announced, covering a wide range of areas, including education, health and justice.

Much of this proposed legislation is bold, ambitious and potentially controversial. It is only right that it will attract scrutiny and provoke much political debate.

It is important to remember, however, that no country has improved itself by always taking the safe or easy option.

One area where parties will have no choice but to work together is on the question of how we pay for our valued public services.

Last year saw the devolution of significant powers over income tax to the Scottish Parliament.

Ahead of the next Scottish Budget process, which will formally begin in December, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Derek Mackay, has written to all political parties in Parliament, asking for confirmation of their income tax proposals.

From this, the Scottish Government will publish a discussion paper that will analyse a variety of policy options and consider the trade-offs and technicalities involved in any changes.

The collaborate, cross-party approach being initiated by the SNP Scottish Government presents us all with an opportunity to judge tax policies on their merit, rather than their political origin.

This solution may not offer an answer to Euthyphro’s dilemma but it gives politicians the opportunity to drop party tribalism and work together constructively.