26

What you are describing is the Platonic view of good and evil, that no one does wrong willingly, but only out of ignorance. An unusually clear and explicit statement of this concept is found in Plato's dialogue The Meno, but it is implicit across his writing on morality, for instance in his discussion in the Republic of the tyrant as the most miserable of ...


24

The concepts of "good" and "evil" form the basis of our moral viewpoints, and science suggests we develop these viewpoints on an individual level with influences from our cultural upbringing. That is, it is suggested that all people (including the religious) take their moral viewpoints not from a book or a higher power but from an amalgamation of cultural ...


16

It's useful here to remember the distinction (most clearly interrogated by Nietzsche) between the opposition "Good/Evil" and the opposition "Good/Bad". "Evil" is a theological term; it is ultimately grounded in some sort of dogma. "Bad", on the other hand, is a pragmatic term. That which is "bad" is merely "not useful". Thus, using the latter opposition,...


15

I don't think this is an answer, but its a long series of comments. TLDR; there are many more considerations to the problem of evil than you seem to address. You've missed a key element of Leibniz's theodicy, and in a way that seems to grossly distort his thought. God creates the best of all possible worlds, yes, but this is not to say that there is some ...


13

First, let's get the terminology straight. What you are talking about does not appear to be "selflessness" at all, but "self-sacrifice", or "altruism." Now, with that in mind, let's refine the question. You appear to be asking "Is it possible for someone to act in a manner that is not motivated, directly or indirectly, by self-interest?" If this is the ...


10

The money from "blood diamonds" isn't bad because of some abstract moral principles but because of practical implications: it is used to finance brutal rebel groups. The "bad money" is used for them for purchases of weapons etc. From the moral point of view the whole chain is the same evil because it is used to finance warlords and provide them with means ...


10

Why not create a world with freedom of the will, but without suffering? This seems to allow two possibilities: No wrong choices are allowed. Wrong choices do not cause suffering. To assert 1. would threaten to deny freedom; one quick argument is that freedom to choose which ice cream flavor is not true freedom. I presume there are more advanced forms of ...


8

I think you are mixing methodology and substance. There are a variety of psychological techniques that can be used to persuade people of things, independent of what those things are. These techniques can be subdivided along lines such as rhetoric and logic, and naturally philosophy has a great deal to say about them-- Aristotle and Plato each wrote on this ...


8

NOTE: This answer was given to a previous incarnation of this question. The block quotes I am responding to come from this incarnation. If I have the time I will modify my answer to respond more directly to this version of the question. When a person is placed in a position of absolute power, is it necessarily true that this power will condemn that person ...


6

The natural rebuttal to Russell here is that he has misunderstood the Stoic understanding of Happiness. In choosing their actions and goods in a principle of "Rational decision in accordance with nature", Stoics do not deny what would make them happy. Happiness for the Stoics just is making that choice willfully. Perhaps Russell might be right were he to ...


6

Your conclusion relies on some absurd premises. First, "our definition of being good is determined by distinction between good and evil" is a huge assumption you're making. You're also operating under the premise that if something doesn't happen, people can't imagine or conceptualize it. By your logic, people in developed countries wouldn't consider ...


6

Xunzi is a confucianist that sees nature as evil. Since humans come from nature their inborn tendencies are evil. Xunzi states that humans without ethical norms or rituals will only attempt to satisfy their desires. A human that is cold, will attempt to warm himself, one that is hungry will eat. He believes that human nature is only egoism. In order to ...


6

Doesn't this then give the idea of a 'bad' person a different implication - we wouldn't say the same to someone if they made a mistake in math or in their finances yet people who are simply in moral reasoning get this pejorative label. We usually take an extra step in judgment if we think of a person/act that is morally bad is bad in general. That is ...


5

Where the psychological tricks of religious fanatics are the dark side of psychology, the religious fanatism itself is the example of the dark side of philosophy. Note the leftist fanatism of Pol Pot, which was based on the base of his philosophy knowledge he gained on Sorbone, the vision of totalitarian regime from Platon's The state. The nazist ideology ...


5

An obvious non-divine standard of good/evil is that found in Buddhist thought and philosophy: A state is evil because it leads to suffering; a state is good because it leads to happiness. In Buddhism, morals are both absolute and utilitarian; evil states can never lead to happiness, so they are intrinsically evil - but only for that reason, not based on ...


5

In one sense, there is no objective standard because "good" and "evil" are words, which are used by accord (but not objectively) to denote various states of affairs. Thus, any "objective" account of good and evil will first have to find some objective descriptor of states of affairs, and then argue that this comports sufficiently well to our conventional ...


5

Embryos are a stage in development of human organisms. To phrase the issue concisely: If something is X at the end of a time interval, then either it must become X during that interval, or else it must have been X from the start. Therefore, becoming X requires a distinct change - "person" is a binary distinction. There are no "half-person" or "3/7ths ...


5

The issue is you're approaching the problem in a different direction. The theodicy you lay out is derived from these premises: God is moral, and logically cannot be the source of evil Evil exists The only source of evil is free will Notice that the starting premise is that God is not evil. Anselm's ontological argument underlies this notion. If God were ...


5

You are asking a very fundamental question. Its original formulation in the West was in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro in which Socrates asks Euthyphro: Is the pious (τὸ ὅσιον) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods? (10a) Consequently, that fork has received the name Euthyphro's dilemma. Is has been discussed ...


5

In the neo-Platonic tradition, from Plato, through Plotinus, and from there integrated into mainstream Christian and Islamic theology, good is the only true reality, and evil is just the absence of good, just as darkness is the absence of light, and cold is the absence of heat. But there are other religious and philosophical traditions in which goodness ...


4

It's rare for philosophers to make ethical claims about men. There are different schools about how to discuss moral behaviour. In virtue ethics there are right or wrong virtues. In consequentialism there are right or wrong consequences. In deontological ethics there are right or wrong intentions. This is very simplified and there's also other schools. ...


4

Consider the fact that humankind has, for the most part, entered secular modernity -- and that humanistic benevolent democracies are the norm in most wealthy countries; this would seem prima facie evidence there are indeed effective "non-divine" standards of good and evil. The problem is of course determining what exactly "good and evil" mean in the context ...


4

I would say that Alvin Plantinga's free will defense is perhaps the most philosophically rigorous defense that many agree defends the logical possibility of a good God which has created a world with evil. Please see the link for arguments pro/con about his defense. Let's be clear about the argument - it's not just that God always acts good (or is all-good/...


4

Virtue ethics are not proposed as a solution to defining what is good. Rather, it is in contrast to, for example, (direct) utilitarian ethics where it doesn't matter what virtue you may or may not be following; all that matters is outcome. Virtue ethics spares you from considering all eventualities, and instead says: it is good to act like so, even if ...


4

I think I disagree with @David Schwartz. I'd read Aristotle's claim differently. I don't think he's offering a definition of ``good'' here per se (and despite what he says).* It's more that he's giving three different examples of the kind of thing that it is proper to attribute the property of goodness to. In other words, I think he's saying there are ...


4

Your question is essentially a variation on a debate in the autonomy literature. The question that arises there is the relationship between autonomy and free choices. The two examples most common in the literature are prostitution and burqas. The question in these instances and yours is this: To what extent is autonomy to be located in the immediate will of ...


4

In English we often use the terms good and bad relative to an ideal. (In Spanish it is the same). So we call a person a good person when some portion (Surly a majority but what percent I don't know) of their actions conform to our expectations about how a person should behave. When enough of their actions do no not conform to our moral ideal then we ...


4

Morality doesn't have anything to do with rationality. I'm going to be Nietzsche's advocate and say that "good" and "bad" are just labels on what a given society wants. This is by no means absolute nor static. "Good" and "bad" change across populations and across time. If you are put in a society where everyone agrees that you are expected to do X (bad ...


4

I've given this a lot of thought as a Christian who has studied the Bible a lot and generally agrees with your reasoning here, having found overlap between the two that seems accurate to me. Here is my understanding of things: There are things which an individual inherently knows are right or wrong. There are things to which an individual is ignorant of ...


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