• Yun Jae Jung
    16
    So I've been searching online for definitions of Moral Good and Moral Bad, but they often just refer to circulatory definitions like intrinsic goodness. I've come up with a working definition of Moral Good and Moral Bad, but unfortunately, there are still some chinks left to be worked out, and would like some feedback on how to amend them. I'd also like some topics that could be covered regarding Morality because I'm trying to write a short book and am running low on ideas regarding content.

    Here's my Moral System which I'm terming as Qualitative Morality for now: it focuses on maximizing the quality of life of consciously living beings.

    Morality is the distinction between Good and Bad:
    Good is anything that raises an individual's quality of life;
    Bad is anything that lowers an individual's quality of life.

    Moral Good is Good unto others;
    Moral Bad is Bad unto others.

    -Do note that Moral Good and Moral Bad are qualified forms of Good and Bad.

    Some food for thought:

    Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, was he a morally good person or a morally bad person?
    According to my moral system, he was both morally good and morally bad as he raised the quality of life of individuals other than himself by giving money to the poor thereby raising their means to meet their needs and lowered the quality of life of individuals other than himself by stealing from the rich thereby lowering their means to meet their needs. However one could argue that he did more moral good than moral bad based on the law of diminishing returns regarding money.

    Here's where it gets a bit problematic: Is it morally bad to jail someone?
    According to my moral system, it would have to be since it lowers someone's quality of life by stripping away a portion of their autonomy. Imprisoning someone against their will may indeed morally bad, but if it's done for extraneous reasons such as preventing that person from harming another then it can also simultaneously be morally good or even morally best given the circumstances as it may be worse to let that person go free.

    Another example to think about: Person A goes out of his way to help out a homeless person (Person B) by taking care of him. A second homeless person (Person C) arrives and so Person A starts dividing the utilities he has to start helping both of them - this ends up lowering the amount of help he can provide Person B. If Person C accepts the help of Person A, is that a morally bad action as it lowers the quality of life of Person B?

    So there are indeed some flaws, but if we could create a moral system based on the quality of life of its participants we can succeed in 1) Creating Non-Arbitrary Definitions of Moral Good and Moral Bad which would allow us to start discovering in more detail what Moral Good and Moral Bad are by determining the factors that dictate a person's quality of life, 2) Answer questions regarding the objectivity and subjectivity of Morality to start developing a universally agreeable form of Morality (My current stance is that we must have objective needs as well as subjective needs as we are the union between an objective world, thus having similarities across human beings, and a subjective experience, thus simultaneously being different from each other).
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    maximizing the quality of lifeYun Jae Jung

    Very utilitarian in flavor. Even the moral conundrums in your moral theory resemble those of utilitarianism. I suggest you don't waste time reinventing the wheel of utilitarianism and the problems that tag along with it.
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    Hi, thanks for the feedback. In that case, could you point me to some definitions of Moral Good and Moral Bad that exist in current theory? I couldn't find any in my first searches but there are probably many that I'm not aware of.
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    some definitions of Moral Good and Moral BadYun Jae Jung

    Truth be told, you're asking the wrong person. My suggestion is that you read up on morality from a good source like :point: The Definition Of Morality (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

    The definition you formulate can be your own, your quality of life meaning is promising as it, if I catch your drift, attempts to incorporate aspects of morality that go beyond the rather obvious hedonic dimension of what good and bad are. However, quality of life needs to be fleshed out, details need to be made explicit and so on.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    Morality is the distinction between Good and Bad:
    Good is anything that raises an individual's quality of life;
    Bad is anything that lowers an individual's quality of life.
    Yun Jae Jung

    Why ought one seek a better quality of life?

    Perhaps one ought seek a lower quality of life, say in order to increase such virtues as stamina and resilience.

    This criticism is an example of Moore's open question argument, which is generally taken to show that for any proposed definition of moral good and moral bad, it is possible to ask if that definition is itself good or bad.

    The upshot is that the good is not definable, and hence that your enterprise is bound to fail.
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    You could argue that virtues such as stamina and resilience allow a person to live at a higher quality of life through their subjective experience despite being under worse objective conditions. Also wouldn't the goal of life be to live life well?
  • Banno
    11.6k
    Yeah.

    The salient bit of that post is
    the good is not definable, and hence that your enterprise is bound to fail.Banno
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    Well the merits of my system is that you can actually get feedback on what is good or bad. You could do something to someone and ask them if they liked or disliked what you did. Of course, this isn't infallible - there are things that raise someone's appreciation of life in the moment but harm them later on such as addictions after all. As for the same point that TheMadFool pointed out regarding an elaboration on what dictates a person's quality of life, I was thinking of something in terms of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    Well the merits of my system is that you can actually get feedback on what is good or bad.Yun Jae Jung

    Sure.

    But foremost in the demerits is that it is wrong.

    The good is not definable. It is a simple term, it is not analysable.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    Good is anything that raises an individual's quality of life;
    Bad is anything that lowers an individual's quality of life.
    Yun Jae Jung

    I'd simply flip this, saying that it is good to raise the quality of someone's life, and bad to reduce it. Much of what you have said still follows, but you avoid the open question.

    The important difference I see between what you have written here and what is more commonly found on these fora is that you talk of raising any individuals quality of life, whereas so many here talk only of raising their individual quality of life, and pretending that this is what is good.
  • god must be atheist
    2.7k
    I think the undefinability of the concept "good" does not exlcude the validity of its use, and especially not in the use of defining morality.

    It is true that good as such is undefinable. But humans use that word, and I believe with a common understanding what it means. Then when you describe what moral actions or decisions are, in relationship to good, then you are transfering the undefinability of good to the definition of moral. The undefinability is transfered, but the limitation of the definition of moral is not hurt by that. We just have a new concept (not that it's new, but in its evolving definition it is preceded by the concept "good"), and though it is based on an undefinable quality, it still clearly delineates its meaning, with a workable, useful, and to me, true definition.

    I base my argument, of course, that undefinability does not mean meaninglessness. Good, the word, is meaningful; its defintion is impossible, but that does not take away from its quality of being meaningful.
  • baker
    1k
    The upshot is that the good is not definable, and hence that your enterprise is bound to fail.Banno
    Then why the tomes of theories and discussions about the good and the bad?
    For millennia, have all those moral philosophers been laboring with an erroneous understanding of good and bad?
    And if yes, whence that error?
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    Welcome to TPF!

    Try this sketch of my aretaic-negative consequentialism on for size:

    Ethical Good is 'the optimization of Moral Agency' (i.e. virtue) by right judgments conduct & relationships.

    Ethical Bad is 'the suboptimization of Moral Agency' (i.e. vice) by wrong judgments conduct & relationships.

    Moral Right indicates judgments, conduct or relationships for preventing or reducing harm and/or injustice (i.e. misery)

    Moral Wrong indicates judgments, conduct or relationships that (deliberately or negligently) fail to prevent or reduce harm and/or injustice (i.e. misery).

    (NB: And evil indicates judgments, conduct or relationships that deliberately or negligently destroy, or likewise fail to prevent destroying, either moral or non-moral agency.)
    Thoughts? Objections?
  • J O Lambert
    5
    Stop right there - good is not anything which raises an individual' s quality of life.
  • god must be atheist
    2.7k
    Stop right there - good is not anything which raises an individual' s quality of life.J O Lambert

    Good is not a noun. It is an adjective. So it can be meaningful only in conjunction of its modifying a noun.

    Good sex is good for the individual's quality of life. So is good food, good company, good sleep, good health, good will, good night.
  • Isaac
    4.2k
    Good is anything that raises an individual's quality of life;
    Bad is anything that lowers an individual's quality of life.
    Yun Jae Jung

    Are there many other words in the English language you feel obliged to define?
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    Only those that don't have clear definitions. Like ask someone the difference between Morality and Ethics for example. For me Morality are principles that differentiate between Good and Bad while Ethics are a set of rules one follows to behave in a good manner.
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    Well I mean creating new definitions for words is pretty much how language works. I think I suggested a viable definition. If you hit someone, you harm someone's physical health and therefore their quality of life so it's bad, if you give food to the poor, you nourish them and raise their quality of life so it's good.
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    According to a quick search online, Good can be both an adjective and a noun. The first definition for it being a noun is "that which is morally right; righteousness."
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    You're the only one so far who provided an alternative definition to Good and Bad so I found that pleasant. It seems that your scale works off an ideal as opposed to changes in the status quo like mine so that's interesting. What differentiates a person's virtue from a vice though? Wouldn't that be a descriptive definition of morality as opposed to a normative one?
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    quality of lifeYun Jae Jung

    This approach to good & bad, morality in general, is promising for it seems to focus, rightly so, on the basics - the desired quality of life would include things like good health (physical and mental), a balanced diet, decent education, satisfactory finances, time and money for wholesome recreation, to name a few. I can see how Maslow's hierarchy of needs is part of your picture of morality. After all, if people's needs are satisfied, they can find time to pursue other activities such as the arts, music, philosophy, science, and so on which will go towards making them models of human flourishing.
  • god must be atheist
    2.7k
    According to a quick search online, Good can be both an adjective and a noun. The first definition for it being a noun is "that which is morally right; righteousness."Yun Jae Jung

    You're right. Well done.
  • 180 Proof
    3.1k
    Wouldn't that be a descriptive definition of morality as opposed to a normative one?Yun Jae Jung
    It's both, like a physician's diagnosis of a patient's health which then implies a prescribed treatment and what the patient should do to complement – sustain the effectiveness of – treatment.

    What differentiates a person's virtue from a vice though?
    As for "virtue" and "vice", from my studies of, say, Confucius and Aristotle, these broad concepts, or categories, denote habits of character (i.e. agency) which positively feedback (strengthen via virtuous (win-win) cycles) and negatively feedback (weaken via vicious (win-lose —> lose-lose) cycles), respectively.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    Then why the tomes of theories and discussions about the good and the bad?baker

    So... for you philosophy is only about setting out definitions?

    That's not right.
  • Yun Jae Jung
    16
    I'm not completely sure that I'm sold on Moore's argument. Maybe I'm misunderstanding something here, but luckily I'm familiar with what syllogism modus tollens is. Before you define a word, it's an open question as to what that means. Once you define the word, it's no longer an open question as it has a definition that would negate premise 2 which states that it's an open question. At the same time, you could argue that a definition is wrong in which case the definition is not equal to the word which would negate premise 1. So I would say that I agree with the logic surrounding Moore's argument but there's never any real case where both premises are simultaneously true and therefore Moore can't ever make his conclusion. Either you define a word correctly and you no longer need to question its definition or you define a word incorrectly and it remains an open question as to what that is.

    Basically I'm saying Moore's second premise could always end up false if we find the correct definition of what is good as it would cease being an open question since the answer on whether something is good could always be derived from the meaning of the word good.
  • Bartricks
    2.8k
    I think you are confusing a definition of moral good and bad with a view about what it is that all cases of moral goodness have in common apart from being good.

    Let's just imagine that what all unambiguous cases of moral goodness have in common is happiness promotion. That is, all clearest cases of morally good states of affairs are states of affairs in which happiness seems to be at a maximum; and all the clearest cases of morally good acts are ones that seem to promote happiness.

    Well, even in the unlikely event that that is true, that would not furnish us with a definition of moral goodness. For the goodness itself is what all those cases have in common, but it would be to confuse the 'is' of prediction with the 'is' of identity to conclude that therefore we now know what 'morally good' means. (And this is what Moore's 'naturalistic fallacy' seems to involve - confusing the 'is' of prediction with the 'is' of identity).

    Moore, of course, thought that moral goodness is indefinable. But I do not think that's correct. Moral goodness is that which would render our rational intuitions that this or that is morally good, 'veridical'. That is, moral goodness can be defined as the veridicality condition of our rational intuitions of moral goodness.
  • J O Lambert
    5
    You are just contradicting me. Obviously, good sex is often disastrous for an individual's quality of life.
  • counterpunch
    1k
    There are no definitive definitions because morality is fundamentally a sense. You may as well ask what makes a joke funny? Or what makes a sunset beautiful? There are identifiable regularities - like the subversion of expectation, or the golden ratio, but they don't tell us anything about why something is funny, or why something is beautiful - and it's the same with morality. The most significant regularity to morality is honesty, but it's not an explanation, less yet a definition.
  • baker
    1k
    So... for you philosophy is only about setting out definitions?Banno
    If the solution to the problems of good and bad is as simple as you outlined earlier:
    The upshot is that the good is not definable, and hence that your enterprise is bound to fail.Banno
    then one has to wonder what all those moral philosophers have been doing for millennia.
  • Banno
    11.6k
    You might read them and discover for yourself.
  • TheMadFool
    9.1k
    This criticism is an example of Moore's open question argument, which is generally taken to show that for any proposed definition of moral good and moral bad, it is possible to ask if that definition is itself good or bad.Banno

    Amazing insight! :up: :clap: Indeed, the definition of good and bad itself can be said to be good or bad (in a moral sense). That means the definition can't be just anything that fancies us, au contraire the definition needs to be justified morally i.e. the definition is actually a proposition. For instance, if I say good is maximizing happiness, I need to provide reasons for saying/thinking that and not just reasons, moral reasons. Since I can't use the "definition" on itself - that would be a circulus in probando [remember we need to justify the "definitions"], I'll need a completely independent and unrelated fully operational death star :joke: moral theory in order to justify a "definition" of good and bad but, the catch is, that's impossible for I'd need definitions of good and bad for that theory too...an infinite regress is what we have on our hands.

    This gums up the works for moral theorists.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.