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Author Topic:   Why It Is Right To Do Good To Others
Stile
Member
Posts: 3438
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 5.6


Message 1 of 304 (403877)
06-05-2007 4:13 PM


The purpose of this thread is to discuss the validity of understanding what is right and to propose a full foundation for the existence of 'good' without the need of God or any other supernatural entity.

There are two questions to answer:
What is good?
-because we need to know what it is in order to do it
Why do people do good?
-what sort of motivations make a person want to do good

What is good?
Good is increasing the positive inner-feelings of another being.

The only way to know if you've actually done some good is to get the information from the being you're dealing with. Sometimes this is easy and the information is freely offered with a head-nod or a smile. Sometimes it is difficult, and we are only able to use the knowledge we have to hopefully affect someone (or something) in a good way.

Why do people do good?
This is why I do good:

1. I interact with others.
2. Interacting with others will cause me to affect them.
3. This can leave a Good, Bad, or Meh effect.
4. I am capable of empathy.
5. If I had a choice, I would like Good things to happen to me.
6. Since I do have a choice on how I affect others, I will attempt to leave Good effects rather then Bad or Meh effects.
7. When I interact with others, I'm going to do my best to cause Good effects.

It's been noted that without God, one cannot answer the question "Why is it right to do good?".

It is right to do good if we want to increase the amount of good in this world.

There are many motivations for wanting to increase the amount of good in this world, a few examples:
-not wanting the bad in this world to increase
-leaving the world a better place for children
-hopefully getting some personal benefits sometime in this life or possibly even the next
-even just wanting to increase the amount of good is a motivation in itself

I have answered the questions "What is good?" and "Why do people do good?" without the use of a supernatural being. I would like anyone to show me where my reasoning is flawed or incomplete (religiously or not, I would like to alter my morality for the better if I can). I would also like for anyone to offer other answers for the two questions so we we can compare and discuss differences.
------------------------
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This thread was started because I was pulling another thread off-topic.

The original topic is here:
Message 1

The discussion was between anastasia and I starting around Message 61 and Message 68 or so.
------------------------
------------------------
A clarification Summary of this position can be found later in this thread at Message 97

Edited by Stile, : Added link to Summary message


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by Phat, posted 06-06-2007 3:50 AM Stile has responded
 Message 4 by Jon, posted 06-06-2007 5:56 AM Stile has responded
 Message 5 by ikabod, posted 06-06-2007 8:34 AM Stile has responded
 Message 9 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 1:56 PM Stile has responded
 Message 20 by anastasia, posted 06-07-2007 12:03 AM Stile has responded
 Message 56 by ICANT, posted 06-09-2007 7:50 PM Stile has responded

    
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Message 2 of 304 (403879)
06-05-2007 4:16 PM


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    Phat
    Member
    Posts: 12254
    From: Denver,Colorado USA
    Joined: 12-30-2003
    Member Rating: 1.4


    Message 3 of 304 (403966)
    06-06-2007 3:50 AM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Stile
    06-05-2007 4:13 PM


    Johnny B Goode
    What does Meh mean?
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by Stile, posted 06-05-2007 4:13 PM Stile has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 6 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 10:06 AM Phat has not yet responded

      
    Jon
    Inactive Member


    Message 4 of 304 (403973)
    06-06-2007 5:56 AM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Stile
    06-05-2007 4:13 PM


    Morality is independent of Intent...
    Stile writes:

    What is good?
    Good is increasing the positive inner-feelings of another being.

    The only way to know if you've actually done some good is to get the information from the being you're dealing with. Sometimes this is easy and the information is freely offered with a head-nod or a smile. Sometimes it is difficult, and we are only able to use the knowledge we have to hopefully affect someone (or something) in a good way.

    Why do people do good?
    This is why I do good:

    1. I interact with others.
    2. Interacting with others will cause me to affect them.
    3. This can leave a Good, Bad, or Meh effect.
    4. I am capable of empathy.
    5. If I had a choice, I would like Good things to happen to me.
    6. Since I do have a choice on how I affect others, I will attempt to leave Good effects rather then Bad or Meh effects.
    7. When I interact with others, I'm going to do my best to cause Good effects.

    First, are you aware of every single effect of your actions, both short- and long-term, and have concluded that those effects do nothing other than increase the positive inner-feelings of others?

    Second, can action X performed on individual A increase A's positive inner-feelings, yet action X performed on individual B decrease B's positive inner-feelings; or, does a good action always increase the positive inner-feelings of an individual no matter on which individual it is performed? If you increased individual C's positive inner-feelings by constantly providing the individual with hard liquor despite the individual's recent liver transplant, are you doing good?

    Third:

    It is right to do good if we want to increase the amount of good in this world.

    What if our goal is not to increase the amount of good in the world? What if our goal is for eternal life? Is it then not necessarily right to do good?

    What if we have 'twisted morals', and feel that feeding the poor will bring about an Armageddon and wish for the world to end, and so we feed the poor because we want to increase the likelihood of an event we feel is bad, by performing an action that our twisted world-view tells us is awful and evil? Is it wrong to do good for such reasons? Does the starving man who's just been served his plate of spaghetti give a damn? Were his positive inner-feelings increased?

    Is the good of the action not still present? Is the rightness of performing the act not still existent despite the performers intent?

    Is saving the old lady in the street from getting hit by a bus not still good, even if you do it simply because she has yet to pay you for mowing her lawn last week?

    I would also like for anyone to offer other answers for the two questions so we we can compare and discuss differences.

    What is good?
    Good is an increase in the positive inner-feelings of one's self.

    Why do people do good?
    This question is very difficult to answer, because it brings up so many other questions. Do people do good? Does the definition of good apply to short-term or long-term inner-feelings? Is it possible to determine when a person has done good?

    Jon


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by Stile, posted 06-05-2007 4:13 PM Stile has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 7 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 11:02 AM Jon has responded

      
    ikabod
    Member (Idle past 2603 days)
    Posts: 365
    From: UK
    Joined: 03-13-2006


    Message 5 of 304 (403984)
    06-06-2007 8:34 AM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Stile
    06-05-2007 4:13 PM


    There are two questions to answer:
    What is good?
    -because we need to know what it is in order to do it
    Why do people do good?
    -what sort of motivations make a person want to do good

    what is good ... nothing is good .. there is no absolute .. good is dependant on a large number variables which are also dependent on the specific circumstances at the time of the act .

    btw do we need to do good .. where is it writen .. is doing no harm not a viable stand point .. or just not doing bad ??

    why do people do good ...they dont they do what the THINK is good , the reasoning process that a individual uses to pick out the good from the non good is .. well individual.

    the motivation to do good again is individual , doing good as its own reward , good good to seek advantage , doing good in the hope of reciprecation ..


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by Stile, posted 06-05-2007 4:13 PM Stile has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 8 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 11:30 AM ikabod has responded

      
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 3438
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 5.6


    Message 6 of 304 (404007)
    06-06-2007 10:06 AM
    Reply to: Message 3 by Phat
    06-06-2007 3:50 AM


    Re: Johnny B Goode
    Phat writes:

    What does Meh mean?

    My apologies, I nabbed a bunch of the text for that opening statement from a post of mine in the previous thread. I must have deleted the part where I explained that when I was attempting to condense and clarify the starting post.

    "Meh" is equivalent to "Whatever" or specifically a neutral effect.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 3 by Phat, posted 06-06-2007 3:50 AM Phat has not yet responded

        
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 3438
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 5.6


    Message 7 of 304 (404024)
    06-06-2007 11:02 AM
    Reply to: Message 4 by Jon
    06-06-2007 5:56 AM


    Re: Morality is independent of Intent...
    Jon writes:

    First, are you aware of every single effect of your actions, both short- and long-term, and have concluded that those effects do nothing other than increase the positive inner-feelings of others?

    Not even close. I'm just a regular guy as far as I can tell. I try my best to increase the positive inner-feelings of others, learn from my mistakes and continually update my strategies.

    Second, can action X performed on individual A increase A's positive inner-feelings, yet action X performed on individual B decrease B's positive inner-feelings;

    Sure it can. Different people react to actions in plenty of different ways.

    or, does a good action always increase the positive inner-feelings of an individual no matter on which individual it is performed?

    It is not "a good action that increases the positive inner feelings of an individual". This is backwards, the good is decided afterwards, only if the positive inner feelings of an individual were increased.

    The same action can very easily be good and bad to different people.

    If you increased individual C's positive inner-feelings by constantly providing the individual with hard liquor despite the individual's recent liver transplant, are you doing good?

    For the theory implied and to play into this specific example... it would depend on your inner-feelings as well, since you are involved in these actions.

    Practically, almost always not. What about the inner-feelings of individual C's loved ones or children when their care-giver dies from liver failure? Or even is this individual just a bit depressed right now and not fully understanding the consequences of their continued drinking?

    We are not able to acquire all the information about inner-feelings of others and how they are affected. We can only make a decision with the information available to us, and our educated guesses about any missing information. Realistically, I would say it is not good to do so because so much information that could be acquired is missing, and I have learnt that such missing information in this scenario would likely show us that to help kill this man is not good.

    It is also possible that we will think an action was good, but later learn that it was not upon getting more information on how people were affected.

    Unless you know how everyone affected was actually, genuinely affected, you cannot know for certain if what you do is good or not. We can only try our best.

    What if our goal is not to increase the amount of good in the world? What if our goal is for eternal life? Is it then not necessarily right to do good?

    I'm defending a non-religious foundation for doing good, not the only one.

    If your goal is something else, then you'll have a different moral system entirely. And yes, you will not necessarily be judged right by my standards.

    If you agree with me that good exists and we should try to increase the amount of good in this world, then we can continue our moral discussions over what accomplishes this better or worse. If you do not agree, then depending on how viciously you disagree, I may not interact with you, or even fight you if you insist on cramping my personal rights and freedoms.

    What if we have 'twisted morals', and feel that feeding the poor will bring about an Armageddon and wish for the world to end, and so we feed the poor because we want to increase the likelihood of an event we feel is bad, by performing an action that our twisted world-view tells us is awful and evil? Is it wrong to do good for such reasons? Does the starving man who's just been served his plate of spaghetti give a damn? Were his positive inner-feelings increased?

    For this specific example, I would judge such an action as good. However, I would also judge the same action with an alternative motivation such as "because the poor are hungry" as much better.

    Is saving the old lady in the street from getting hit by a bus not still good, even if you do it simply because she has yet to pay you for mowing her lawn last week?

    Sure it's still good. It's just better if you save her because you think she'd rather live.

    What is good?
    Good is an increase in the positive inner-feelings of one's self.

    Sounds greedy to me. I would say that my answer is better than yours.

    Why do people do good?
    This question is very difficult to answer, because it brings up so many other questions.

    Yet answer it I did.

    Do people do good?

    Yes.
    Does the definition of good apply to short-term or long-term inner-feelings?

    Both.
    Is it possible to determine when a person has done good?

    Yes, as much as it is possible to determine anything.
    Generally, all you have to do is ask them. Sometimes their body language will tell you without even needing oral communication. Of course, some people will put up a facade so discretion and constant vigilance is required.

    No one said doing good was easy.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 4 by Jon, posted 06-06-2007 5:56 AM Jon has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 21 by Jon, posted 06-07-2007 12:26 AM Stile has responded

        
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 3438
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 5.6


    Message 8 of 304 (404032)
    06-06-2007 11:30 AM
    Reply to: Message 5 by ikabod
    06-06-2007 8:34 AM


    ikabod writes:

    nothing is good .. there is no absolute .. good is dependant on a large number variables which are also dependent on the specific circumstances at the time of the act.

    But if nothing is good... how can it possibly depend on anything, let alone "a large number of variables"?

    Plenty of things are good.

    Do you deny that saving an innocent life is good?

    btw do we need to do good

    Yes, we do.

    .. where is it writen

    Right here in this thread, I've just typed it all out.

    .. is doing no harm not a viable stand point .. or just not doing bad ??

    No, not good enough. In order to increase the amount of good in this world we need to do good things.

    Now, if you'd like to argue that "increasing the amount of good in this world" is something you're not interested in, then that's a valid position. It's a wrong, bad and even evil position. But it certainly is a valid moral position.

    I'm not saying that "increasing the amount of good in this world" is the best moral system. I am saying it's better than the one you just provided, and any others I've ever heard of. If you can show me an even better system, I'll switch to that. So far, I haven't heard of one.

    why do people do good ...they dont they do what the THINK is good , the reasoning process that a individual uses to pick out the good from the non good is .. well individual.

    Almost there... they hope and try to do good.

    The subjectiveness of "good" is in how different people react differently to situations. However, once someone has reacted, the good or bad of that reaction can be objectively obtained and reflected upon to determine if the action was actually good or bad. It is a personal choice of individuals if they want to attempt to learn what is good and bad, and attempt to increase the good. This is how we differentiate between "good" and "bad" people.

    Subjective does not equal useless. Within morallity it just means there's no look-up table to find out if you're doing good or not. You have to learn from people because different people react differently. Not only that, but it isn't even good enough to learn from one person, you have to learn from everybody. A daunting task to put it mildly. It really isn't easy trying to be good.

    the motivation to do good again is individual , doing good as its own reward , good good to seek advantage , doing good in the hope of reciprecation ..

    Yes, and even these motivations themselves can be judged as good and bad.

    It's like an onion, the levels just keep coming...


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 5 by ikabod, posted 06-06-2007 8:34 AM ikabod has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 22 by ikabod, posted 06-07-2007 7:01 AM Stile has responded

        
    joshua221 
    Inactive Suspended Member


    Message 9 of 304 (404068)
    06-06-2007 1:56 PM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Stile
    06-05-2007 4:13 PM



    Click to enlarge


    Click to enlarge


    Click to enlarge

    Edited by AdminAsgara, : fixed huge images


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 1 by Stile, posted 06-05-2007 4:13 PM Stile has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 10 by jar, posted 06-06-2007 2:20 PM joshua221 has not yet responded
     Message 11 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 2:37 PM joshua221 has responded

      
    jar
    Member
    Posts: 30936
    From: Texas!!
    Joined: 04-20-2004


    Message 10 of 304 (404077)
    06-06-2007 2:20 PM
    Reply to: Message 9 by joshua221
    06-06-2007 1:56 PM


    Come on kids.
    You do know how funny this is don't you?


    Aslan is not a Tame Lion
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 9 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 1:56 PM joshua221 has not yet responded

      
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 3438
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 5.6


    Message 11 of 304 (404078)
    06-06-2007 2:37 PM
    Reply to: Message 9 by joshua221
    06-06-2007 1:56 PM


    Pretty Paper.
    Yes, and how does this affect anything?

    As your paper describes them, would you classify me as an absolutist or a relativist?

    I cannot be an absolutist because I agree that different actions can cause different subjective opinions in people.

    I cannot be a relativist because I say we can objectively know what is right, what is wrong, and discuss the fine points.

    So where do I fit?

    Take the fox-hunting scenario.
    Simon is against fox hunting. (Absolutist)
    Genghis is for fox hunting. (Absolutist)
    Rosie says neither is correct. (Relativist)

    I say one is right and the other is wrong and we only need more information to determine who. (Absolutist? Relativist? ???)

    Let's keep this simple. I will ask if the fox-population is having ill-effects on our society. I'll give you two possible answers and two objective answers for who is right and who is wrong.

    1. No, foxes don't bother us and their popoulation is coming close to extinction.
    Then Simon is right and Genghis is wrong, it is bad to kill foxes. Killing a fox will lower the inner-feelings of the fox (it won't have any anymore).

    2. Yes, foxes are over-populated, advancing on our civilization and even beginning to injure small children.
    Then Genghis is right and Simon is wrong, it is not bad to kill foxes. The foxes are infringing on our equal right to live in this world. It's time to defend ourselves and fight back.

    I understand I've provided an extremely simplistic scenario. But I hope it gets the point across.

    So, I have definite absolutist-answers, however they hinge upon subjective-relativistic additional information. Where does this fit into the paper?

    Yes, there are going to be situations where we cannot gather all the information we need to make decisions.
    This does not mean we can't make decisions on those situations we have plenty of information about. Or that we can't make the best decision we can with the information available to us when we need to act.

    The paper is immature, only skimming the surface of morality. It needs to dig a little deeper and get to a functional, practical system.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 9 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 1:56 PM joshua221 has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 12 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 2:50 PM Stile has responded

        
    joshua221 
    Inactive Suspended Member


    Message 12 of 304 (404080)
    06-06-2007 2:50 PM
    Reply to: Message 11 by Stile
    06-06-2007 2:37 PM


    Re: Pretty Paper.
    The objective of the paper is not to determine if fox hunting is right or wrong. To reason out which position is right you would undoubtedly need more information. You are an absolutist because you recognize that fox hunting is either right or it is wrong.
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 11 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 2:37 PM Stile has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 13 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 3:02 PM joshua221 has responded

      
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 3438
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 5.6


    Message 13 of 304 (404082)
    06-06-2007 3:02 PM
    Reply to: Message 12 by joshua221
    06-06-2007 2:50 PM


    Objective is not the same as absolute
    Rosietherelativist writes:

    You are an absolutist because you recognize that fox hunting is either right or it is wrong.

    This is incorrect. Or perhaps you have changed the definition of "absolute".

    An absolutist would say that fox hunting is always right or always wrong.

    I say that whether it is right or wrong is relative to the subjective situation. That doesn't sound very absolute.

    The choice of someone's favourite colour is subjective.
    Once someone has a favourite colour, the fact that such a colour is their favourite is objective.

    You seem to be saying that once a specific is chosen, then it is an absolute. This is incorrect. It is objective, but not absolute.
    Unless you'd like to contend that people who like green are absolute "green-ists"? :) Then all choices would be absolute, and the word would have no meaning.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 12 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 2:50 PM joshua221 has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 14 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 3:16 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply
     Message 15 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 5:07 PM Stile has responded

        
    Stile
    Member
    Posts: 3438
    From: Ontario, Canada
    Joined: 12-02-2004
    Member Rating: 5.6


    Message 14 of 304 (404086)
    06-06-2007 3:16 PM
    Reply to: Message 13 by Stile
    06-06-2007 3:02 PM


    Just Rambling...
    Each person is forced to create and maintain their own morality.
    The only way we can tell if it's any good, is by how it affects other people.

    Funny how something that only exists because of how others feel, is soley dependent on how the individual feels.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 13 by Stile, posted 06-06-2007 3:02 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

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     Message 16 by joshua221, posted 06-06-2007 5:10 PM Stile has acknowledged this reply

        
    joshua221 
    Inactive Suspended Member


    Message 15 of 304 (404107)
    06-06-2007 5:07 PM
    Reply to: Message 13 by Stile
    06-06-2007 3:02 PM


    Re: Objective is not the same as absolute
    quote:
    This is incorrect. Or perhaps you have changed the definition of "absolute".

    An absolutist would say that fox hunting is always right or always wrong.


    Um, that's what I wrote. Putting "always" in front of right and wrong doesn't change the definition of absolute.

    I see that you are a relativist.

    Edited by Rosietherelativist, : No reason given.


    This message is a reply to:
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