Being good or bad.

Discussions that deal with moral issues. Key questions in ethics include: How should one live? What is right (or wrong) to do? What is the best way for humans to live?

Being good or bad.

Postby tess on March 9th, 2015, 4:50 pm 

Is this all decided by our DNA, our ''creator'', free will or an environment?
Any thought WELCOME.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby TheVat on March 9th, 2015, 9:54 pm 

Several threads here address the question in exquisite and exhaustive detail. The Quick Search feature is your friend.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby BadgerJelly on March 10th, 2015, 1:36 am 

I think we are all capable of being good or bad. Some are more inclined towards one or the other depending on the environment they are exposed too.

For me it is more a question of how we determined what is good or bad, right or wrong. A question with answers that will vary depending on cultural bias not just genetic bias.

We have empathy so we should appreciate harm that may be caused. What this suggests can be interpreted in different ways.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby JohnD on March 10th, 2015, 3:12 am 

tess » 10 Mar 2015, 06:50 wrote:Is this all decided by our DNA, our ''creator'', free will or an environment?
Any thought WELCOME.

Hi Tess. Short answer environment. Everything we do is determined by our environment. Our thoughts are a reaction to our environment. Good or bad are an analysis of past experience next to possible future action.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby BadgerJelly on March 10th, 2015, 4:03 am 

JohnD » March 10th, 2015, 3:12 pm wrote:
tess » 10 Mar 2015, 06:50 wrote:Is this all decided by our DNA, our ''creator'', free will or an environment?
Any thought WELCOME.

Hi Tess. Short answer environment. Everything we do is determined by our environment. Our thoughts are a reaction to our environment. Good or bad are an analysis of past experience next to possible future action.


Our basic make up would determine how easily swayed we are towards one or the other though. As with the "psychopath gene" it may remain dormant if it is never triggered by the environment. The environment does not determine whether the gene is present or not.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby doogles on March 10th, 2015, 4:15 am 

tess » Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:50 pm wrote:Is this all decided by our DNA, our ''creator'', free will or an environment?
Any thought WELCOME.


Simplistically, I think this topic is best addressed with reference to animal behaviour, particularly dog behaviour.

My opinion is that there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour among animals in the wild. They just do what nature hard-wired them to do, with some added nurturance modifications. For example if a suckling pup nips its mother’s teat, it gets a nip back and quickly learns that nipping a teat results in ‘hurt’ and a behavioural modification is learned. But this does not require any awareness of the terms ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as we human beings know the terms. Without rules, there is no good or bad, there is just adjustment to conflicting needs.

With domestic dogs and cats it’s different. We can train them to accept all sorts of rules regarding their behaviour. We have rules requiring them to eat, defecate, urinate and sleep in designated places in our houses. We regard them as being good or bad on the basis of whether they conform or not. This applies also to the rules of behaviour they should manifest toward other human beings or other pets. Every domestic pet owner I know, repetitively uses rewards for good behaviour along with the words 'good dog' or else 'No!" or 'bad boy' for undesirable behaviour. They get to know by rewards and tone of voice what the rules are.

With our species, we apply the same judgments of ‘being good’ or ‘being bad’ to members of our kind, depending on whether they conform to or ignore the innumerable rules that apply within our various groups.
We have rules at almost every level that we function:- House, Public transport, Traffic, School, Workplace, Club, Public Institution, Church and Religion, Local Government, State Government, Federal Government, Economic Bloc, International Government.

If we conform to the rules at each level, we are ‘being good’, and if we ignore them or flaunt them we are ‘being bad’ in the eyes of members of which ever group whose laws we are observing at any given time.

And the standards of rules for judging good or bad can be quite different between different groups. For example a successful bomber of any past or present terrorist organisation who kills large numbers of men, women and children can be regarded as being good (even a hero) by the terrorist group, but as bad (a cold-blooded mass killer) by the group that has been massacred.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby JohnD on March 10th, 2015, 4:36 am 

doogles » 10 Mar 2015, 18:15 wrote:
My opinion is that there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour among animals in the wild. They just do what nature hard-wired them to do, with some added nurturance modifications. For example if a suckling pup nips its mother’s teat, it gets a nip back and quickly learns that nipping a teat results in ‘hurt’ and a behavioural modification is learned. But this does not require any awareness of the terms ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as we human beings know the terms.


While not wanting to take the discussion in such a different direction I don't agree. Animals are not hard wired to do anything. They learn the same as we do through environmental experience. In regards to good or bad they are also society based, more third person than first. It is the way we judge each other and our individual behaviours. It isn't within our genes either, nor religion though many religious people may want to think so. We only need to look at how many religious people do bad things to realise that such training isn't worth very much. The reason I say it isn't our genes is that if it were we would find the culprit and possibly look to omit it.

doogles » 10 Mar 2015, 18:15 wrote:Without rules, there is no good or bad, there is just adjustment to conflicting needs.

This is the truest statement that applies to all of life.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby Hendrick Laursen on March 10th, 2015, 5:24 am 

Or perhaps the matter of Nature vs. Nurture.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby doogles on March 10th, 2015, 6:22 am 

JohnD wrote:
doogles » 10 Mar 2015, 18:15 wrote:
My opinion is that there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour among animals in the wild. They just do what nature hard-wired them to do, with some added nurturance modifications. For example if a suckling pup nips its mother’s teat, it gets a nip back and quickly learns that nipping a teat results in ‘hurt’ and a behavioural modification is learned. But this does not require any awareness of the terms ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as we human beings know the terms.


While not wanting to take the discussion in such a different direction I don't agree. Animals are not hard wired to do anything. They learn the same as we do through environmental experience. In regards to good or bad they are also society based, more third person than first. It is the way we judge each other and our individual behaviours. It isn't within our genes either, nor religion though many religious people may want to think so. We only need to look at how many religious people do bad things to realise that such training isn't worth very much. The reason I say it isn't our genes is that if it were we would find the culprit and possibly look to omit it.

doogles » 10 Mar 2015, 18:15 wrote:Without rules, there is no good or bad, there is just adjustment to conflicting needs.

This is the truest statement that applies to all of life.


Thanks for reading my post JohnD.

If 'animal hard-wiring' is a prime reason for your rejection of my opinion, I have to ask you to consider how 'environmental experience' endows a hatchling sea turtle with the ability to break out of its egg, climb up through the sand out of its nest, waddle towards the water, swim away, identify seaweed, coral and jellyfish to eat, to mate, and later to most probably return to its beach of origin to lay its eggs. This is all performed without a single lesson from another sea turtle. It's the nearest thing to a robot in the animal world.

What passes for a cerebral cortex in a sea turtle is mainly nerve connections.

Unfortunately this is off topic, but cats, dogs, humans and other animals from reptiles upwards all possess not only an inner hard-wired primitive brain identifiable major part for major parts with those of reptiles, but they have extremely similar neuro-endocrine glands and autonomic nervous system throughout the rest of their bodies. The major difference between species is in the size of the cerebral cortex. These combinations of tissues have been around for over 200 million years, and represent the source of our primitive (but complex) drives. These are hard-wired to control not only all of the complex physiological balances that maintain our status quo of health, but our basic primitive drives, as in the case of the sea turtle.


Sorry for that diversion, but at this stage I stand by my recent post. And yes, Hendrick, I agree with you that nature vs nurture comes into the picture. Our natures (hard-wired) motivate each of us initially to do whatever we would like to do. But because we would all like to have our own way in all things, conflicts of wants arise. In order to avoid this we need rules at every level of our lives as I stated in my recent post. Democratic rules are usually designed to give everyone a fair go. If we conform, we are being good, (because we avoid conflict by conforming) and if we ignore the rules we are being bad (because we are not conforming to a fair system).
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby JohnD on March 10th, 2015, 6:47 am 

I haven't studied every creature on the planet to be able to answer properly on what affects turtles or more precisely the giant sea turtles. However in instances that I have read about there are always other factors, nothing to do with nature or DNA but circumstance. Have you thought that why a turtle lays eggs in the sand is because that's where it's born? Or that it eats what it eats because it tastes good and is catchable?
Rules and structures aren't ingrained on our DNA otherwise there would be no crime. Rules have taken thousands of years of trial and error. By the way true democracy doesn't work. Even Plato got tired of it and preferred authoritarian rule. What we call democracy today is but a shadow of what it should be, but that's another subject.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby Darby on March 10th, 2015, 8:03 am 

JohnD » March 10th, 2015, 4:36 am wrote:
doogles » 10 Mar 2015, 18:15 wrote:
My opinion is that there is no such thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ behaviour among animals in the wild. They just do what nature hard-wired them to do, with some added nurturance modifications.

While not wanting to take the discussion in such a different direction I don't agree. Animals are not hard wired to do anything. They learn the same as we do through environmental experience.


If I may briefly continue this side discussion about nature vs nurture, I think doogles reference to the former is reasonably well established and fairly widely accepted as a given. Various animal species in the land sea and air are born with the innate ability and need to migrate seasonally, an ability that has been naturally selected (per Darwinism) over countless generations. Cats, even domestic ones, have an instinctive need to stalk (hunt), and will do so even if separated from their mothers at a very young age. The same is true for herding breeds of dogs having an instinctive desire to herd, which is then further cultivated and refined by their owners ... but unlike the homing instinct, that selection was intentional by Man, not nature, but it is still behavioral genetics (we BRED them to do it). Worker bees are born with an instinctive desire to gather nectar, and drones cull diseased/dead larvae without anyone sitting them down in a school desk and telling them what to do and why. Etc al. Further examples abound.

It's hardly the be all and end all on the subject of behavior in the animal kingdom, because nurture, intelligence and free will play roles as well, but instinct is well established. Some of us may not have been exposed to the term or phenomenoa by either not growing up on a farm or not spending time out in the wild to see it for ourselves, or not taking classes about psychology or zoology, but instinct/behavioral genetics is a real term. Numerous supporting sources exist online for anyone curious.

Back on topic ...
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby JohnD on March 12th, 2015, 11:42 pm 

Before we go back on topic I feel I must give a response to the notion that animal behaviour research hasn't moved since the days of Darwinism. It most certainly has moved and new research is showing animals behave as individuals. This doesn't mean that every creature on the planet has been investigated, that will take much more than my lifetime however in the last 30 years there has been progress and along with it a different view is progressing.
I refer you to a website called Elsevier at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/animal ... -articles/
this is just one of a multitude of websites reporting on animal behaviour research.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby thinker4life on July 5th, 2017, 6:27 pm 

tess » March 9th, 2015, 3:50 pm wrote:Is this all decided by our DNA, our ''creator'', free will or an environment?
Any thought WELCOME.


Hi Tess,

I think I can say with a high degree of certainty that its a combination of genes, environment, AND free will. Genes and environment I think we can all agree on (if not let me know) as influencing probabilistic outcomes. Free will is the contentious one, and I'd argue I've given a pretty good proof of free will here (I know that's a bold statement, but bear with me and try to read and understood my proof before you say its impossible to do):
goo.gl/VnSTRN

As for being good and bad, the definitions themselves can be quite complex and nuanced, and the slope is slippery, I've done my best to define them in terms that I think most people should be able to agree on, and would love anyone's feedback on whether they have suggestions that can strengthen these definitions:
https://goo.gl/kSajGC
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby zetreque on July 5th, 2017, 9:47 pm 

Braininvat » Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:54 pm wrote:Several threads here address the question in exquisite and exhaustive detail. The Quick Search feature is your friend.


Agreed.

I also don't understand how this topic could even be discussed without first defining what good and bad are in the perspective of the person asking the question. Just defining them can be discussed to great length.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby zetreque on July 5th, 2017, 9:58 pm 

Overall: I would define good as being that which allows the most diversity of life to continue living into the future at the healthiest state possible. Bad being forces opposing that.

On a more selfish personal perspective. Good is actions (by myself and/or others) that allow my own life to continue forward in a healthy way and that of my offspring (basically the same thing as above). Bad being forces/actions opposing that.

I would then say what is responsible for good and bad is the level at which rational beings are rational or irrational.

The cause of that is mostly social and cultural factors with a minor biological factor.
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Re: Being good or bad.

Postby thinker4life on July 6th, 2017, 8:39 am 

zetreque » July 5th, 2017, 8:58 pm wrote:Overall: I would define good as being that which allows the most diversity of life to continue living into the future at the healthiest state possible. Bad being forces opposing that.

On a more selfish personal perspective. Good is actions (by myself and/or others) that allow my own life to continue forward in a healthy way and that of my offspring (basically the same thing as above). Bad being forces/actions opposing that.

I would then say what is responsible for good and bad is the level at which rational beings are rational or irrational.

The cause of that is mostly social and cultural factors with a minor biological factor.


You may want to check out the definition of good and evil I posted. It's consistent with yours but more detailed and I'd argue my definition of evil is more precise. Glad to see we're aligned anyway.
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