How Would You Define Good/Bad?

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Morrisseya
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#1
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#1
Here's a question to everyone on here, no matter what you believe (or don't) :cool:

How would you define "good" things/actions? Or "bad" ones?

State your religion/beliefs in your reply, please.
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james22
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Athiest. I would say something is bad if it causes harm and good if it reduces harm.
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Plantagenet Crown
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I'd define good actions as those that bring benefit to others and bad as those that bring harm, pantheist.
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viddy9
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#4
Good, or moral, actions or inactions are those which increase the total utility in the world, where utility is defined by satisfying the preference of a sentient being.

Bad, or immoral, actions or inactions are those which decrease the total utility in the world, by increasing suffering and/or violating the preference of a sentient being.

I'm an agnostic atheist, and preference utilitarian.
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AymenDenmark
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You can define bad and good according to what one believes ; Religion constructs what is Good and what is Bad!


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Cali_lewis
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#6
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#6
(Original post by Morrisseya)
Here's a question to everyone on here, no matter what you believe (or don't) :cool:

How would you define "good" things/actions? Or "bad" ones?

State your religion/beliefs in your reply, please.

Weak rule utilitarian (such as mill) with a bit of aristotles virtues thrown in
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TorpidPhil
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Something that I thought of myself but has been very close to touched on through other forms of utilitarianism. Essentially it is a combination of preference + welfare + rule utilitarianism:

I decided to make developmental utilitarianism (I don't think anybody has done this before?) which defines utility as the function of x where x is equivalent to economic/social development (which are quantifiable and able to be weighed and have their own formulas themselves and so this is technically a function composition) - the time in which it takes to cause such development + the maintaining/allowing for the preferences of non-humans - the cost to human preferences or development needed in order to do the action. Human preferences are more important than animal ones but not as important as human development.



So U = f(x) = (x - t) + (BP - NP) U = 0 = neutral, U>0 = good, U<0 = bad. In principle everything is quantifiable.



Where U = utility of the , X is very hard to define and is still something that needs to be clarified. It is a function of itself and is a function in some manner of things such as GDP per capita, education, literacy rates, doctors per person, life expectancy, political freedom, access to resources and factors of production, political transparency and other indicators of quality of life. T is the time it takes for the action to cause development. BP is the amount of non-human preferences (so the preferences of animals) that are upheld because of the action, or benefits to preferences, whereas CP is the cost to preferences, or the amount of preferences of both people and humans that have to be denied in order to do the act. BP only includes animals because human preferences are overwritten by development as its better in the long-run (because humans are fallible and fallacious and so their preferences albeit important are often not actually what is best for them), animals on the other hand do not benefit in anyway from economic/social development and so I factor in their preferences separately and give them a lower weighting for hopefully obvious reasons. Human preferences are still somewhat important though and they can't be over-written without making the act slightly more "bad".
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username1726497
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#8
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#8
I am an atheist.

It is very hard to define something ad either good or bad, things aren't that simple. People have different experiences of things and often these things have both positive and negative impacts.

However, if I had to say if something was good or bad, I would assess these positives and negatives, look at how they affect various people, the environment and society as a whole.


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VivoMortale
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#9
I'm a Christian but as I state morality is a term set and/ or based on the perception of the phenomena we refer to as religion. In its entirety both good and bad are as equal as are they arbitrary. The manifestation of "good" and "bad" apply only to what we see benefits us at a certain instance. Id est they are representative of our desires which based on human morality are placed in order of good/ beneficial to bad/ harmful similar to the creation of greed. Simply put if good is of greed which is evil all things must be bad.
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Sesshomaru24U
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#10
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#10
You can't define them. You can just provide several interpretation for them all. That's it. Isn't life fun?
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Kocytean
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#11
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#11
I don't believe in good and bad.
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MM04926412
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#12
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#12
(Original post by Morrisseya)
Here's a question to everyone on here, no matter what you believe (or don't) :cool:

How would you define "good" things/actions? Or "bad" ones?

State your religion/beliefs in your reply, please.
Good and bad do not exist in any coherent objective sense, when someone refers to something as good or bad they are merely describing a subjective preference for that thing.

For example nothing is intrinsically bad about murder, we simply show distaste for it, this subjective nature to good and bad means the question itself is incoherent, as good and bad are not properties things can possess, they are statements of preference.

Nihilist Atheist
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MM04926412
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#13
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(Original post by TorpidPhil)
Something that I thought of myself but has been very close to touched on through other forms of utilitarianism. Essentially it is a combination of preference + welfare + rule utilitarianism:

I decided to make developmental utilitarianism (I don't think anybody has done this before?) which defines utility as the function of x where x is equivalent to economic/social development (which are quantifiable and able to be weighed and have their own formulas themselves and so this is technically a function composition) - the time in which it takes to cause such development + the maintaining/allowing for the preferences of non-humans - the cost to human preferences or development needed in order to do the action. Human preferences are more important than animal ones but not as important as human development.



So U = f(x) = (x - t) + (BP - NP) U = 0 = neutral, U>0 = good, U<0 = bad. In principle everything is quantifiable.



Where U = utility of the , X is very hard to define and is still something that needs to be clarified. It is a function of itself and is a function in some manner of things such as GDP per capita, education, literacy rates, doctors per person, life expectancy, political freedom, access to resources and factors of production, political transparency and other indicators of quality of life. T is the time it takes for the action to cause development. BP is the amount of non-human preferences (so the preferences of animals) that are upheld because of the action, or benefits to preferences, whereas CP is the cost to preferences, or the amount of preferences of both people and humans that have to be denied in order to do the act. BP only includes animals because human preferences are overwritten by development as its better in the long-run (because humans are fallible and fallacious and so their preferences albeit important are often not actually what is best for them), animals on the other hand do not benefit in anyway from economic/social development and so I factor in their preferences separately and give them a lower weighting for hopefully obvious reasons. Human preferences are still somewhat important though and they can't be over-written without making the act slightly more "bad".
That's a nice attempt to make things objective... but... the things you've put into it and the ways they are measured is ultimately arbitrary, and as such so is your answer, ironically just going with your gut instinct would be more reliable imo.

There's no... legitimacy to your equation, there's no proof to back it up, if it's anything it's a rule of thumb. Why care about animals for example? Do you have a mathematical proof? You really need to prove maths is relevant to morals ir this is all meaningless.
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TorpidPhil
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#14
(Original post by MM04926412)
That's a nice attempt to make things objective... but... the things you've put into it and the ways they are measured is ultimately arbitrary, and as such so is your answer, ironically just going with your gut instinct would be more reliable imo.

There's no... legitimacy to your equation, there's no proof to back it up, if it's anything it's a rule of thumb. Why care about animals for example? Do you have a mathematical proof? You really need to prove maths is relevant to morals ir this is all meaningless.
Well define gut instinct because that to me seems to be just guessing. I've tried to clarify what it is that our "gut instinct" as sane human beings is trying to address when it makes us feel like we want to call any action bad.

Ultimately everything that is based on inductive evidence is not provable because inductive evidence is never knowable with certainty.

The reason why animals must be included in this equation can be exemplified via a thought experiment:

Which scenario is worse given that both lead to the same outcomes:
Scenario A in which 1 human is killed.
Scenario B in which 1 human and 45 cows are killed.

Given that scenario B is obvious worse because it leads to unnecesary suffering in the form of pain of sentient being animals clearly have some moral value. We would try and think a bit harder about the specifics of it though. How many cows would have to die for it to be worth sacrificing a human life to save them?

Of course things aren't quite that simple as presumably killing quite a few humans to prevent the extinction of a species (as can be seen through attempts to tranquilise and saw down the horns of rhinos in Africa proves) is seen as generally justifiable when if such animals weren't close to extinction (such as saw moles aren't, or foxes) then we wouldn't care even though their deaths result in equal levels of suffering in the short-term. Why do we care about extinction? Because it could break the bio-sphere and that hurts us in the long-run. Clearly all of our moral claims are based on some evolutionary drive to improve our well-being in the long run.

What's the point of formalising as I did above? Becuase it allows us to better imagine the "perfect" legislative system and therefore it allows us to be self-critical of our society and improve it as well being able to criticise inferior societies elsewhere. Moral subjectivism doesn't allow this. Of course I'm not claiming that I know with certainty that the notion of "goodness" is described perfectly by my "formula", I mean the "formula" in itself isn't fully specified as I've yet to define economic development or weight each section accordingly but that all requires empirical research that I will have to do at a later date. It's still infinitely more useful though than saying "the notion of goodness is meaningless gibberish", especially considering such a notion is the entire basis of our legislative system.
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MM04926412
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#15
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#15
(Original post by TorpidPhil)
Well define gut instinct because that to me seems to be just guessing. I've tried to clarify what it is that our "gut instinct" as sane human beings is trying to address when it makes us feel like we want to call any action bad.

Ultimately everything that is based on inductive evidence is not provable because inductive evidence is never knowable with certainty.

The reason why animals must be included in this equation can be exemplified via a thought experiment:

Which scenario is worse given that both lead to the same outcomes:
Scenario A in which 1 human is killed.
Scenario B in which 1 human and 45 cows are killed.

Given that scenario B is obvious worse because it leads to unnecesary suffering in the form of pain of sentient being animals clearly have some moral value. We would try and think a bit harder about the specifics of it though. How many cows would have to die for it to be worth sacrificing a human life to save them?

Of course things aren't quite that simple as presumably killing quite a few humans to prevent the extinction of a species (as can be seen through attempts to tranquilise and saw down the horns of rhinos in Africa proves) is seen as generally justifiable when if such animals weren't close to extinction (such as saw moles aren't, or foxes) then we wouldn't care even though their deaths result in equal levels of suffering in the short-term. Why do we care about extinction? Because it could break the bio-sphere and that hurts us in the long-run. Clearly all of our moral claims are based on some evolutionary drive to improve our well-being in the long run.

What's the point of formalising as I did above? Becuase it allows us to better imagine the "perfect" legislative system and therefore it allows us to be self-critical of our society and improve it as well being able to criticise inferior societies elsewhere. Moral subjectivism doesn't allow this. Of course I'm not claiming that I know with certainty that the notion of "goodness" is described perfectly by my "formula", I mean the "formula" in itself isn't fully specified as I've yet to define economic development or weight each section accordingly but that all requires empirical research that I will have to do at a later date. It's still infinitely more useful though than saying "the notion of goodness is meaningless gibberish", especially considering such a notion is the entire basis of our legislative system.
Why is unnecessary suffering bad? What unit is it measured in? If you are going to assign these values emotionally what purpose do they serve, subjective in subjective out. Your formula makes as much sense as saying Cuteness(X)=fluffiness+adorableness/dangerousness there is no way to derive these values objectively in a way that makes your equation useful

Ironically the values you pick will say more about the speaker, and if you feel one event is worse than another I doubt anyone has the intellectual credulity to not let confirmation bias force them to edit the numbers to suit them. Before you say something like "Reducing net suffering is moral", keep in mind, you have to prove that, (Evolution isn't an argument, it's the naturalistic fallacy) it's objectively beneficial and that there is some completely rational and objective way to measure suffering in some sort of physical unit.

My own position is that, yes, it is sort of guessing, in the same way saying "I like this painting is guessings", moral positions are ones of preference, they don't need to be rationally backed up unless you want others to follow them or want them externalised as objective goods and bads. You seem to treat morals in the platonic sense of looking for what is objectively good, but first one must show such a good can exist.
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TorpidPhil
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#16
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#16
(Original post by MM04926412)
Why is unnecessary suffering bad? What unit is it measured in? If you are going to assign these values emotionally what purpose do they serve, subjective in subjective out. Your formula makes as much sense as saying Cuteness(X)=fluffiness+adorableness/dangerousness there is no way to derive these values objectively in a way that makes your equation useful

Ironically the values you pick will say more about the speaker, and if you feel one event is worse than another I doubt anyone has the intellectual credulity to not let confirmation bias force them to edit the numbers to suit them. Before you say something like "Reducing net suffering is moral", keep in mind, you have to prove that, (Evolution isn't an argument, it's the naturalistic fallacy) it's objectively beneficial and that there is some completely rational and objective way to measure suffering in some sort of physical unit.

My own position is that, yes, it is sort of guessing, in the same way saying "I like this painting is guessings", moral positions are ones of preference, they don't need to be rationally backed up unless you want others to follow them or want them externalised as objective goods and bads. You seem to treat morals in the platonic sense of looking for what is objectively good, but first one must show such a good can exist.
Well beauty and art are objective too lol - else why do so few of us enjoy watching a dog getting chopped to pieces by a chainsaw yet love a good piece of classical music? Scientists are already trying to figure out which facial features are objectively more attractive to normal people.

What makes suffering evil? The fact that part of definition of evil is that which causes suffering... This isn't a circular argument because I'm not making any claims about how the world is here, it's just a tautology. Part of the definition of evil involves this notion of suffering.

Now you could argue that our use of the word evil with association to suffering is inappropriate and that we should stop doing that. That's a fair point but I disagree because again, it's clear to me that our use of the word evil is completely based on our desire to survive as a species, that's why we have these moral faculties, and suffering is to do with surviving as a species hence having suffering being a part of our definition of evil seems very appropriate to me.

And it has not been extensively polished or researched yet so obviously it's extremely vague. I am just supposing to you what "good" likely does attempt to describe.

I'm not a moral realist. I'm a quasi-realist and a non-descriptivist. Moral claims are not synthetic claims about the world because moral properties don't exist as independent entities, yet nonetheless moral claims may be objectively true/false because they are analytic in nature just like mathematical, logical or other modal claims.

Your point about painting being guessing is off unless you suppose the laws that we ought to have in society are merely like our preferences with regards to tastes? If you say such then you cannot justifiably claim that modern society has progressed from times in which we still underwent slave trade and had no welfare state or healthcare system or education system and so on. This doesn't seem worth losing just to protect a queer notion of moral subjectivity.

Saying that something exists because of evolution isn't the naturalistic fallacy btw, the naturalistic fallacy is saying that something is better for being more natural. Evolution says nothing like such.
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MM04926412
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#17
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#17
(Original post by TorpidPhil)
Well beauty and art are objective too lol - else why do so few of us enjoy watching a dog getting chopped to pieces by a chainsaw yet love a good piece of classical music? Scientists are already trying to figure out which facial features are objectively more attractive to normal people.

What makes suffering evil? The fact that part of definition of evil is that which causes suffering... This isn't a circular argument because I'm not making any claims about how the world is here, it's just a tautology. Part of the definition of evil involves this notion of suffering.

Now you could argue that our use of the word evil with association to suffering is inappropriate and that we should stop doing that. That's a fair point but I disagree because again, it's clear to me that our use of the word evil is completely based on our desire to survive as a species, that's why we have these moral faculties, and suffering is to do with surviving as a species hence having suffering being a part of our definition of evil seems very appropriate to me.

And it has not been extensively polished or researched yet so obviously it's extremely vague. I am just supposing to you what "good" likely does attempt to describe.

I'm not a moral realist. I'm a quasi-realist and a non-descriptivist. Moral claims are not synthetic claims about the world because moral properties don't exist as independent entities, yet nonetheless moral claims may be objectively true/false because they are analytic in nature just like mathematical, logical or other modal claims.

Your point about painting being guessing is off unless you suppose the laws that we ought to have in society are merely like our preferences with regards to tastes? If you say such then you cannot justifiably claim that modern society has progressed from times in which we still underwent slave trade and had no welfare state or healthcare system or education system and so on. This doesn't seem worth losing just to protect a queer notion of moral subjectivity.

Saying that something exists because of evolution isn't the naturalistic fallacy btw, the naturalistic fallacy is saying that something is better for being more natural. Evolution says nothing like such.
Quick fire responses

Common subjectivity does not mean objective, if everyone agreed clockwork orange is the best film ever made, it would still be subjective, saying beauty is objective implies disagreement is incorrect

A moral claim can only be analytically true within a system of axioms, I see no reason to accept any proposed so far

Evolution doesn't but you implied the will to survive being evolutionary and thus natural made it objective.

I'll rephrase the question, what makes evil to be avoided if it benefits me personally?

"cannot justifiably claim that modern society has progressed from times in which we still underwent slave trade and had no welfare state or health care system or education system and so on. This doesn't seem worth losing just to protect a queer notion of moral subjectivity. " - and? I can say I prefer it that way... isn't that enough? As a moral non-realist and nihilist I'd argue I don't need to justify my preference and any attempts to enforce it is my own self interest only. For example free health care personally benefits me.
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bittr n swt
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#18
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#18
I don't believe in good or bad, laws have been put into place to determine what is bad. I won't let a law tell me what is good and what is bad.

Agnostic.
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TorpidPhil
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#19
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#19
(Original post by bittr n swt)
I don't believe in good or bad, laws have been put into place to determine what is bad. I won't let a law tell me what is good and what is bad.

Agnostic.
Laws aren't put in place to determine what is good and bad... That would make no sense as what would be the basis for putting the laws into place in the first place? Whatever benefits the incumbent law-makers the most? Obviously not.
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daughterofaprince
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#20
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#20
If my actions hurt someone i consider it bad
otherwise everything is fine to me
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