What Is Good And What Is Bad?
Let’s think some more about an earlier topic. When I published my post on “Ethical – What Does It Mean To You?”, I gave an example using 9/11 and how from one point of view, it was a bad thing, but from another point of view, it was a good thing. This is a puzzling dilemma since I don’t want both views to be “good.” How can we resolve this problem of having the determination of right and wrong based on relativism? This dilemma, I suppose, falls into the category of moral relativism, which is a long study that I am not prepared to jump into at this time.
Now, since I’m not prepared to discuss moral relativism and trying not to over-simplfy things, I think we can start distinguishing good from bad by relating it to LIFE. By this I mean, if it is good for life, then it is good; if it is bad for life, it is bad. Using this test, the event of 9/11 was bad for life; therefore it was a bad thing. When we bombed Iraq, it was bad for life, therefore it was bad. When we develop policies to reduce AIDS in Africa, it is good for life, therefore it is good. When we reduce carbon emissions, it is good for life, therefore it is good. ETC…
I realize this is not complete, but I think is has possibilities. I’m sure we can run into some moral dilemmas where we can have bad for one “side” and good for the other. One that comes to mind is the debate about abortion. To abort is bad for life (of the fetus), but good for life (of the mother, if her life is in danger, for example). And, there are possible problems with different “kinds” of life. For example, to kill a chicken is bad for the life of the chicken, but the food it provides for the the human is good for the life of the human.
I think this determination of good and bad is a complex problem. Having mentioned the words “complex problem,” reminds me of a quote from H. L. Mencken that I use often, “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat and wrong.” I know that we cannot always expect a simple solution, but in order for us to start the process of determination, I think we need to have some fundamental principle with which to begin. So, though I have not solved the dilemma of what is ethical or not, I do think we at least have a starting point by using the test of LIFE. Again, I know this is only a starting point, but just because a problem is complex, we shouldn’t stop seeking a solution AND we should keep trying to make our thinking fit reality. WOW!
What do you think?