Personally, I think that there's no such thing as good or bad; the human mind is a human mind, the human body is a human body, emotions are emotions, the universe is a universe, philosophy is philosophy, and all these things just do what they do, and if they can't do what they do, then it doesn't matter in the long run because there is no long run because there is no afterlife or God (or perhaps there is, but even then, I seriously doubt that He or it is actually magical in any way); we're all just machines.

So what do you think, anyone?

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If you mean moral absolutes, I agree there are none,and neither good nor evil exist as objective realities.

However,I'm able to recognise good and bad actions, places people and events,if only from a purely hedonist perspective. I can also use egoism and utilitarainism as measures of good and bad.

As for humans being machines; I think you flatter us and do a disservice to machines..
"Human beings are merely animals with delusions of grandure" (Tarquint St john Shagnasty)
Good and bad is all about perspective. Granted there are some acts that I do believe cannot be viewed as "good" from any perspective. The thing about good and bad is that it implies one or the other when in reality most things tend to be more blended.
Personally, I think some sort of objective ethics or morals is needed for humankind to prosper. What about this: The Ineffable Carrot and the Infinite Stick
Whether or not humankind needs a set of normative ethics (and I agree, I believe it does) is quite a different issue from whether there are such things as objective good or evil. Like I said, I think overall good (if we are speaking in utilitarian terms) results from objective ethics imposed on human societies but this has no bearing on whether good and evil exist, or in what sense.

I would shy away from the Platonic notion of Good as a real, existing entity (like Tarquin above), but I do tend to think that there are actions, attributes etc. (albeit probably not very many) of which we can say that they are objectively good or evil (like SBrookes?).
I think it's basically a question of definitions or concepts.

If you define "good" as "whatever decreases unhappiness and/or increase happiness among human beings" then you've set the grounds for the existence of an objective good - the utilitarian version.

Replace "happiness among human beings" with "personal happiness", and you've got the Objectivist variant.

If you prefer to conceptualize "good" as an abstract entity completely disconnected from human reality, then the evidence for an objective good is indeed problematic.
"If you define "good" as "whatever decreases unhappiness and/or increase happiness among human beings" then you've set the grounds for the existence of an objective good - the utilitarian version."

Even this can be argued with quite easily. E.g.; My boss, managing through intimidation and degradation of the employees makes him happy, but does not make his employees happy.

Got into an online discussion like this once where someone said the definition of good and evil was quite simple; that which is constructive for upholding a society and its order is good, that which destroys societies is bad.

Another person and I jumped right on that to therefore defend Rape as good (control of the masses = keeping society in order). This person was very not happy with us using his definition of good/evil to defend Rape.

Not to mention that by defining good as increasing happiness you'd make an awful lot of people mighty happy simply by burning atheists at the stake. Far more people would be happy about that than unhappy. So it's a net gain for happiness.
It's still wrong for obvious reasons.

I'm always suspicious of the "Good is anything that creates stability in society" arguments too. Since that could quite easily (And most likely does) mean killing anyone that steps outside the status quo. The society as a whole would prosper in the short run. In the long run it would grow stagnant. In the end, you'd probably have the last living human cutting his own throat to teach himself not to step out of line.

Sure, you could use either to define good and evil accurately by adding enough exceptions and footnotes...But by the time you accurately defined good or evil, you'd end up with a constitution. People don't grasp complex arguments of morality well. If they did, religion wouldn't be so popular. It's much easier when it boils down to "Us = good them = bad.".

So yes, it would be possible to define a universal moral standard. You just wouldn't be able to make it into a soundbite or a slogan.
"Be excellent to each other"?
But how excellent? ;)
I admit, that is a good one. Even something like that could be easily twisted.
"I was only doing it for his/her own good." is commonly used to defend blatantly immoral acts.

Even the burning of the atheists could be for our own good. Burning purifies the soul...So they are just helping us, after all.
Yes, but most of the time when you really get down to it, when people SAY "I was doing it for their own good" what they actually MEAN is "I was doing it for my good."

Which is main problem really. If we could find the selfish part of the brain and rip it out (while leaving in the bits that keep us alive) most of humans problems would probably evaporate.
Mel, when I am elected Empress of Everything I am simplifying the constitution to read "Be excellent to each other."

Brilliant. ;-)
Huh? While there are valid objections to classical utilitarianism, I don't see how this one could be one of them. If your boss makes himself happy at the expense of his employees' own happiness, he effectively decreases general happiness, which goes contrary to the definition of good you quoted.

A better, and common, objection would be "What if ten people enslave one to their mutual benefit? You have 10 happier people vs 1 unhappy one, which fits the definition, since it increases global happiness". I think everyone here would agree this is indeed an evil move. The obvious counterargument would be it only marginally increases 10 people's happiness (they only get 1/10th of a slave's work each), while it dramatically decreases the slave's one - probably enough to offset the enslavers' happiness gain. Thus, a net decrease of global happiness, thus evil.




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