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Can any action be classified as good or bad? Like say, two people

  1. Sep 26, 2008 #1
    Can any action be classified as good or bad?
    Like say, two people equally good are vying for a job. The manager chooses A instead of B, it is good for A but bad for B isn't it?

    Also if one wanted to create some good, like say set up and industry to give jobs to the local populace he has to destroy whatever was in that site (meaning vegetation, animals, etc) which is bad!!!
    Is there some law of conservation of good and bad like the amount of good one creates an equivalent bad has to be done?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2008 #2
    Re: Good/Bad

    Just to answer your first question really quick..

    Yes, actions can be classified as good or bad.
    You can actually classify anything as whatever you want.
    If you are implying some absolute good or bad, then I don't believe in that.
    I believe good or bad is based on judgment from people who decide it is good or bad, and that there is no absolute value to anything.
  4. Sep 27, 2008 #3


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    Re: Good/Bad

    famous zen story about that...a man's son broke his leg, and neighbors cried to him, "how unfortunate". then a war caused young men to be conscripted, and most died, and because of his leg, the son was exempted, and the neighbors cried, "how fortunate". and so on and so on, the classification kept changing as new information came in.
  5. Sep 27, 2008 #4
    Re: Good/Bad

    first we have to answer the question 'can anything be classified as anything'? or is everything subjective?
  6. Sep 28, 2008 #5
    Re: Good/Bad

    It seems to me that you would have to invoke some short of theological or related authority to lend the notions of good or bad any absolutist foundations. Good and bad, I think are more soundly rooted in consequentialist ideals of relative suffering. However, as far as evolutionary fitness is concerned, good and bad seem to have sharp distinctions. Qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, respect, and concern for others have roots in origins of group interactions, and reciprocal altruism-qualities fashioned for group stability that increased the liklihood of survival. From this perspective, I suppose one could have a solid basis for distinguishing good and bad. Steven Pinker even suggests the ontological reality of moral principals in the same way as the Platonic conception of numbers, but I have reservations with this approach.
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