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How do you define an action "good"


D.Doughty

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Hi all, writing a paper here and I just wanted to get an input on what you guys see as "good" and how you would define it. Like I know i was taught that helping someone is good, saving animals is good, but what exactly is good? When someone like Hitler kills millions of people and claims the action to be "good", how does he justify it?

Thanks!

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"Good" changes depending on whom or what the action is "good" for.

Need to justify killing 1 million people? Claim it is to save 2 million.

Otherwise, people often say there is no such thing as a true "good deed" since it usually benefits the person in some way, or at a bare minimum makes them feel good. I think that's a load of crap, as there is such a thing as a win-win.

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Have an enemy.

Before WWII the global economy was crap! Everyone hated the jews. They thought the Jews were screwing the world since they were the mathematicians who controlled the banks. they were perceived a common enemy in Europe and it was beneficial. There was lots of propaganda always reminding people of the 'enemy'

You can define something as a good action if you are helping someone in pursuit of slowing down a common enemy. For example, the door is in Kesler's way. Burrows can do something good and open the door for Ryan which eliminates the common enemy (door being in his way) and allows Kesler to proceed without taking to much of his time.

Or

The jews are screwing us. We can save our families and countries if we kill and take them all out and create a police state where we can rid or problem quickly and return to growing out families without inteferenece

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What is good? What is bad? I've taken a moral philosophy course at SFU and a good or bad action depends on your own particular philosophy.

Take this example. There is a terrorist (who I will say is a white American for the hell of it) who plans to blow up the entire city of New York with a nuclear bomb that he planted. Only he knows the location of the nuclear bomb. In order to get the bomb's location from him, you torture him. All your efforts fail, but you find out that he has a 3 year old daughter. You know he loves his daughter with his life.

You are faced with this situation: kill his daughter to get the location of the bomb and save xxx million people, or don't do anything. This is the only way to get the bomb's location. The terrorist will tell you the true location of the bomb if you spare his daughter's life. What do you do?

According to different philosophies, one could justify the killing of an innocent 3 year old girl by the fact that one would be saving xxx million lives. This moral philosophy, called utilitarianism, claims that right or good actions are ones that increase the welfare for the greatest amount of people. According to utilitarianism, it is morally correct to kill the girl to save xxx million lives. That being said, don't you feel that's the wrong action? Killing an innocent 3 year old girl?

Another philosophy on this same example is this: Mankind has created a set of rules for the good of society. As such, acts such as stealing, assault, and murder are wrong. If you follow the rules that society has created, then killing the innocent 3 year old girl is wrong -- even if it means you would save xxx million lives. This reasoning implies that you wouldn't be the one killing xxx million lives, as they would be killed by the terrorist.

Essentially, different philosophical ideas have different ways in looking at the morality of actions. There are other moral philosophies as well, and it's pretty cool learning about them because you can debate certain issues (like abortion). So yeah, it all depends on what you think it is and your justification of it.

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Anything that doesn't give me a headache just by thinking about it :P (thank goodness I'm done with philosophy!)

I'll be back with my $0.02.

EDIT: here's my take, essentially it's something that is done for the benefit of the recipient. I'm not going to go near any philosophical questions, but it can just be looking out for your neighbor's best interests (use common sense, not in an intrusive way of course!) so that the net result of your action, in spite of any negative things that may come along with it, is in the positive.

Regarding things like Hitler or whatnot, it was for his own people's good but not for the greater good of the world. Universally speaking, his actions were detrimental, though they were seen as good by his own people, so even with the subjectivity of it all I agree that good should be for the benefit of the greatest number of people. That's why, in stories like Christ's death on the cross and the movie I Am Legend, the sacrifice of one was for the greater good of others, and it's the net benefit of the works done by these heroes, causing positive effects on others' lives, that makes it good IMO.

(Don't plagiarize :P)

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A 'good' is simply something we desire. The mutation of the word is an example of the deep reach biblical teachings have into our lives here in Western society, ie. they taught that helping other humans is 'good' therefore we desire it.

ps. it was a fun exercise not using the word itself there, sheeit is it ever ingrained.

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Any action that helps another person feel good and/or improves their quality of life can be defined as a good action, conversely any action that negatively impacts another person life can be defined as bad , can good come from bad ? Yes though it does not validate the original bad action.

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