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Good and Bad

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    Are good and bad dichotomous terms with specific definitions for each, or is bad just the absence of good?

    Is everything "good" in some way, but is bad just a lower version of good?

    What got me thinking was this example..

    Let's say a person's family is hungry and he decides to steal from a store to feed them.

    For the person who is stealing, the act is both bad (as it is theft) and good (as it feeds his family)

    For the store owner, the act is bad as it is lost profit

    For the family, the act is good.

    However, at the end of the day, the act is the same. How can we judge the act on its own merits as "good" or "bad"? Or are all actions only good or bad subjectively and have no inherent characteristics to define them as such?
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    (Original post by .eXe)
    Are good and bad dichotomous terms with specific definitions for each, or is bad just the absence of good?

    However, at the end of the day, the act is the same. How can we judge the act on its own merits as "good" or "bad"? Or are all actions only good or bad subjectively and have no inherent characteristics to define them as such?
    This is quite an interesting argument, but I think you've made the mistake of assuming that the words can only have one meaning. In reality 'good' and 'bad' have both a moral and a non-moral usage. I describe chocolate as 'good' because eating it gives me pleasure but I don't consider it to have any moral value; conversely I would describe fighting for your country in battle as a 'good' deed despite the fact that the person doing so may find it a thoroughly unpleasent experience.

    The subjectivity question is complicated. I won't comment on whether the words' moral sense is subjective for fear of opening the enormous can of worms that is meta-ethics. You've made an interesting point about the words' non-moral senses but again you've become confused by language: it's true that the conditions for correct usage of the words consist not just in the objects referred to but also in properties of the subject using the language, specifically qualitative mental states; but that doesn't make propositions describing things as good or bad epistemically subjective. If I know what qualitative experiences someone has as a result of or in conjunction with an entity they describe as 'good' or 'bad', I can know with certainty the truth-value of the proposition describing it as such and this truth-value is objective in that it is independent of anyone's knowledge or belief about it. Facts about your mental states are epistemically objective even if we make the dubious assumption that the mental states themselves are ontologically subjective. 'Subjective' is a confusing word that all too often acts as a trojan horse for all manner of pseudo-philosophical bull****.

    And again, commenting only the non-moral uses of the words, whether or not the properties denoted by 'bad' are simply an absence of those denoted by 'good' is relatively simple question. I would suggest the answer is no because something's failure to induce pleasure is not sufficient for it be correctly described as 'bad'; it has to actively induce some unpleasent sensation...but then we have all sorts of difficult questions about the nature of mental states.

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