Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
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24-04-2015, 11:00 AM
Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
I think defining actions, behaviors, characteristics and even thoughts has good or evil is, from a philosophical point of view, inadequate. Good and evil appear to me has too definitives to be useful in any moral debate. Building any moral code on the concept of good vs bad actions (behaviors or characteristics) leads to failures. Shouldn't these two concepts be replaced by the more supple concepts of lack and excess? Ultimatly, these can do the same job, yet do not stigmatise any characteristics, actions or behaviors, only their circomstances. They would match moral reality in which we live. What do you think about this subject?
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24-04-2015, 11:02 AM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
They are often harmful in their uses and definitively can be expounded upon in better ways.

I don't think they're "useless" because they're simple, and that gives them a use. But they're drastically overused because it settles things sufficiently for some people.

"Allow there to be a spectrum in all that you see" - Neil Degrasse Tyson
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24-04-2015, 11:08 AM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
The word "moral" is an abstraction used to describe what the individual or a group uses to describe behavior they think benefits them, so "morals" are still subjective.

Instead, what our species can do to understand life, is to know we all want food, we all want shelter, we all desire companionship, and we all want to feel safe in our environments. Our species unfortunately gets divided by labels, which causes us to falsely attribute the word "morals" to the labels we invent and assign ourselves and each other.

Our species behavior will always produce acts of cruelty and compassion. So our species "morality" is in our evolution, not our labels. Labels are not patent holders that determine if a individual or a group will automatically do good or bad.

Poetry by Brian37(poems by an atheist) Also on Facebook as BrianJames Rational Poet and Twitter Brianrrs37
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24-04-2015, 02:00 PM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
It may be inadequate but it's simple, so it could be used to produce kind of simple moral framework upon which majority will agree. Then we could work on something more refined.

I think it is not the word at fault here, it's about our understanding, about different perspectives what such simple labels entail. As long as one feel empathy and don't harm other it is of no consequence how we call such behavior.

The first revolt is against the supreme tyranny of theology, of the phantom of God. As long as we have a master in heaven, we will be slaves on earth.

Mikhail Bakunin.
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30-04-2015, 10:45 PM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
Good and Evil are useful concepts once defined. The past two and a half millennia have been used by Philosophers and Theologians to carry forward the dialogue about what constitutes good and evil. All of this stems from the 3rd (of 3) and most important (relevant as ever) branch of philosophy which asks the essential question "What should I do (and by inference, what should I NOT do?). The branch is sometimes called Axiology (study of rules, particularly of behavior), or ethics or morality. Significantly (and falsely), religions (particular in the west) have tried to claim suzerainty over the question. Any reading of Plato's Euthyphro or even a glance at Lots argument with god over the destruction of Sodom and Gamora reveals that morality comes a-prior to any deity. Most recent dialogues concerning good and evil have pointed toward general ideas like increasing flourishing and reducing suffering as good and the contrary as evil. The only recent controversy in morality stems from a school generally referred as relativist who's adherents would insist for example that while killing women for looking at us funny is unacceptable in the West (Europe and much of the New World), it is perfectly acceptable in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. This relativism also informs the idea of ecumenicalism, that every religion is right (lol).

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09-05-2015, 02:23 PM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
I don't think the concepts of good and evil are useless. But they are most definitely subjective. I much prefer the terms "kindness" and "cruelty." They are much easier to define and do not rely on a magic man in the sky as a "lawgiver." For me personally, kindness is synonymous with good, and cruelty is synonymous with evil, but the terms "kindness" and "cruelty" are easier to understand and do not rely on religion for their definitions.

"El mar se mide por olas,
el cielo por alas,
nosotros por lágrimas."
-- Jaime Sabines
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10-05-2015, 12:54 AM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
Values are subjective. Morals are a synthesis of subjective values and objective reality. Good is that which results in correspondence between values and reality. Evil may well be a useless moral concept as all actions result in some imperfection in the match between values and reality. Moreover a sensible value to hold is that people who hold different values in some relatively insignificant ways should still be able live together... so we are always talking about a scale of morality as we are presented with moral choices and consider the possible outcomes of those choices.

If evil is to be a meaningful term it would have to relate to maximising the discordance between reality and a set of deeply held widely shared common values. There are acts that can be described as falling in this category.

The danger with these terms is miscommunication and propaganda. Calling anything evil has a way of dehumanising people and should be a term reserved for clear violations of basic human rights. Calling anything good has a way of triggering primitive value systems where the value is not something like "right to life" but "adherence to doctrine". While these primitive value systems can hold within them useful shorthand they must be open to revision in a changing world in order to remain relevant.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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12-05-2015, 12:25 PM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
What about replacing good and evil with a simple statement along the lines of, If the action you are going to take will cause physical or emotional harm to another individual then the act shouldn't be done.

I realize that this is probably too simplistic of an argument though and has some flaws, but based on the current discussion would the above statement be less subjective?

“We can judge our progress by the courage of our questions and the depth of our answers, our willingness to embrace what is true rather than what feels good.”
― Carl Sagan
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12-05-2015, 01:29 PM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
(12-05-2015 12:25 PM)Worom Wrote:  What about replacing good and evil with a simple statement along the lines of, If the action you are going to take will cause physical or emotional harm to another individual then the act shouldn't be done.

I realize that this is probably too simplistic of an argument though and has some flaws, but based on the current discussion would the above statement be less subjective?

That's precisely why I use the terms "kindness" and "cruelty" rather than "good" and "evil."

"El mar se mide por olas,
el cielo por alas,
nosotros por lágrimas."
-- Jaime Sabines
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12-05-2015, 02:13 PM
RE: Are good and evil useless moral concepts?
(24-04-2015 11:00 AM)epronovost Wrote:  Shouldn't these two concepts be replaced by the more supple concepts of lack and excess?

Lack and excess of what?
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