I believed that there is no way to explain some actions as "Good" or "Bad" and there are just our perception of an action, in fact if an action is for us we call it "Good" and if it dissatisfies us we assume it is "Bad."

Can you name the view and tell me more about it?

  • 1
    Hello and welcome to philosophy.se! Asking whether or not this is true is sort of a lot to ask, philosophers (and everyone else) have been arguing about this for thousands and thousands of years. However, there are views that "good" and "bad" are not real concepts. Moral nihilism is the view that nothing is moral or amoral, while moral skepticism is the general view that humans cannot know whether or not things are morally good or bad. There are, of course, counterarguments to both views.
    – Not_Here
    Aug 15 '17 at 6:08

The position you describe is a non-naturalist one defined most succinctly by G.E Moore in what has become known as the "Open Question Argument". Essentially, Moore argued that when we say something is 'good' we have not defined 'good' other than in a tautological sense. For example, if we say personal well-being is good, and declare this to be a fact, then personal well-being must become synonymous with good, so the statement above would read "good is good". This would obviously be uninformative (a closed question), whereas, Moore argues, "personal well-being is good" is a statement about which one might debate (an open question) and therefore has not defined 'good' analytically.

This approach, however, is not without it's flaws. Bertrand Russell argues in his Elements of Ethics, that 'Good' can be defined by examples designed to generate the idea of good in our minds in much the same way as we cannot 'define' the colour red other than by showing someone a collection of things all of which are red. By this notion, it doesn't matter that we cannot linguistically express 'good' other than by tautology because all the sentences we use are doing is helping to bring the concept to mind.

It can also be refuted by, at some point on the open question, closing it empirically, or by some belief statement. If, for example, one were to ask whether Queen Elizabeth were the Queen of England in 2017, that might be a meaningful question despite the fact that some empirical investigation might yield the knowledge that the two concepts "Queen Elizabeth" and "The Queen of England in 2017" were, in fact synonymous.

Finally, you could resolve the issue in materialism. You say 'Good' and 'Bad' might be "...just our perception of an action" as if it were possible, or perhaps desirable, that they were something more than that, but we are all human beings, and it is reasonable to suppose that the concept of 'Goodness' evolved through natural selection to serve some evolutionary purpose and so whilst it may be "just" our own personal opinion, that opinion is not only likely to be very similar among all humans, but more importantly, we could say with some authority that a person claiming x is good, where x is something most people consider bad, is likely to be deluding themselves, rather than making an honest statement about their internal state of mind.

It may well be that 'Good' and 'Bad' are just our own personal opinions, but that may still leave them as definitions, described by example, which one could use to make objective moral judgements.


Working primarily from the sentence:

I believed that there is no way to explain some actions as "Good" or "Bad" and there are just our perception of an action

I would say you're describing a species of ethical subjectivism (or moral subjectivism). Here, the basic idea is that things are right or wrong as the subject decides them to be.

There's several different versions of this (here's some further references if you want to better articulate your version: https://ethicsinpr.wikispaces.com/Ethical+Subjectivism , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethical_subjectivism, http://carneades.pomona.edu/2010-PoP/0929-nts.shtml)

One of the main thrusts for ethical subjectivism in modern philosophy was the movements of analytic philosophy and logical positivists in the early 20th century (including G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell -- see http://www.iep.utm.edu/analytic/).

Here, the idea is moral sentimentalism, which is an outgrowth of the idea that the world should be viewed in terms of propositions (that reflect a truth-value about something in the world) merged with the belief that moral claims do not have object truth values.

A second feature in your view:

in fact if an action is for us we call it "Good" and if it dissatisfy us we assume it as a "Bad" and evil thing.

(I've changed "against" to for in quoting you, I assume that's what you meant).

This sentiment is held by emotivist ethical subjectivists. But it's also held by Aristotle (Nicomachean Ethics BK II) and Mill (*Utilitarianism -- Chapter 1 and 2). The idea is that we perceive good and bad in actions around us and describe them this way based on how they affect us.

If the hinge is that this is just perception, then you're definitely a breaking with both Aristotle and Mill. For Aristotle, there's two things. First, these perceptions have to do with what is good or bad for us. Second, these perceptions can be skewed by a bad upbringing. (The ethical subjectivist has access to neither). For Mill, it's not very deeply complicated but again, there's a basic assumption that happiness is the good that we all seek.

Conversely among contemporary views, your deepest disagreement will be with deontologists and Kant who don't give prominence (or perhaps any place) to how we feel about actions.


The distinction is quite simple if one thinks about the terminology of "good" and "bad", One would extract that it is subjective, there is not anything like objective "good" or "bad". Only thing matter is the interpersonal priority of achieving homeostasis range and regularity in life is marked as good action or otherwise bad action.In society, those actions which maintain or seems to maintain the regularity and homeostasis of society is "good' or otherwise "bad'.

Value theory Intrinsic and Extrinsic Value

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