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What does "good" mean anyway?

So apparently, every time I state that something (or someone) is good, several people feel the need to ask me to define "good."

I understand the moral, philosophical, relative implications of the concept, but do we really need to define "good" every time? For a very common word that most people use on a daily basis, one would think we have a somewhat common general concept of what one means by "good," however this is one of those concepts that people think deserve a "personal" definition.

So, what does "good" mean anyway?
I posted this discussion originally on Think Atheist, link bellow in case you are interested in reading the comments.
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Hugging a baby is good, punching one in the face is bad. That's as about as objective as morality gets as far as I'm concerned.
 
What about the term "good" and its relation to property? For instance I once wrote: "Property and its importance in western culture as a positive force is also reflected in our language, expressions, and in words and their meaning. For instance, compare the following words pairs and their meaning: proper to property; good to goods; weal to wealth. Or how about the English play on words, "he is a good man who is a man of goods," or the saying that to be born "of goodly parents" meant that the family was wealthy enough to hire tutors for "learning."
 
The way I define it is the feeling you get when you've done something you know is right. whether it be morally, your feelings, or just to ease your case of OCD.
 
When an object(/person) makes others feel better OR does not cause any inconveniences,that object(/person) is good.
 
I think it will turn out that the definition of "good" is a combination of recursion ("things which encourage the growth of good things") and opposition ("anything that helps prevent bad things from happening") -- where "bad" is actually the easier term to define.

Not that it's easy, just easier... my first guess would be something like "that which increases the entropy/functioning/? of society" (killing or harming people, disrupting the supply of basic needs...) but I wouldn't try to claim that it's that simple.

it's important to note, however, that very few actions are unambiguously one or the other, because something which has good consequences in the short term may have long term bad consequences, or vice-versa.

I propose that any rational moral argument is ultimately about that question (rather than about what "basic good" and "basic bad" are): does action X, which seems clearly good now, have clearly bad consequences later that outweigh that good?

We also get into trouble when we lump actions together with their canonical (rather than reasonably expected or _actual_)* consequences -- the goodness-or-badness of the expected consequences becomes the goodness-or-badness of the action, even if the action was done in such a way as to create a different outcome that is unexpectedly better/worse than the model assumes.

Okay, I've rambled enough... bracing for impact...

(* edited for clarity)
 
+Woozle IsAnAlias Interesting and deep.But if we do not have a few certain things which can be termed "basic good/bad" then it could happen that, based on some assumption of what-might-be we do something which we perceive as "long term good" where in reality the assumption was mistaken and we end up with "bad" in all time scales.
 
It depends on what kind of "certain things" you mean.
 
I posted this in that forum as well:


I would say that by default "good" means good for you, as in OK or acceptable to you. That is probably the least deniable meaning when anyone uses the word, irrespective of the meaning they intend.
Obviously most people are inferring a greater meaning, perhaps even suggesting an objective judgement or truth of some kind.
Personally I think to can build up to a practical objective-like judgement by starting with "good for you" and just adding all the necessary related factors in as you go.
For instance, as an extreme example, it may be "good for you" to kill some bothersome individual if you limit the cost benefits to include only the moment and your self. As you extend the scope in time and social reach then quickly it becomes bad for you.
Your example statement "I am good without god" is kind of an illustration of this in a more general sense, in that the implication is that you are in harmony with your community without a believe in God to encourage you to be so. So, you are encompassing the social group into the cost benefit showing that your good is aligned with that of the community as a whole.
So, to paraphrase, good in that case is "in harmony with the community" or some other phrasing with the same meaning which your listener would be able to parse.
 
You shouldn't have to define it every time. Certain intellectuals maintain that "good" and "bad" are meaningless outside of an arbitrarily constructed language game. For them, it's necessary to define "good" because it has no real meaning. But, as Sam Harris says in Moral Landscape, that's poppycock.
 
But it if it does have real meaning, then it's not necessary to define it? <.<
 
These attempts to define goodness are not too bad...
Not good, but... not bad (but not good).
ian c
 
Drugs are good, MMMKAy? Wait, I meant bad.
 
I think is a direct relationship between good and our values.the concept is a good external and internal.we adopted some of the concepts of nature as well as beauty and love and some of them depending on the type of culture and our beliefs.
 
The actual term used in the New Testament (working from the original codices) for its central (divine man} character is 'Is the Good' (rather than 'Jesus Christ' in which 'Christ' means 'Messiah'). This 'Is' character is translated in the Qur'an as 'Isa'. But what does 'the Good' mean in this sense? I understand it as in the modern expression 'the great and the good'.
 
My old psych proffessor challenged his advanced classes to stop using the words- good, evil, right, wrong and truth for an entire month. People then had to call things out for what they were. This wasn't an exercise to get people to reject their conscience but to actually have to think about the what and why in what they usually termed as wrong.
 
good: halfway between terrible and awesome
 
The way I see it, terms like 'good' and 'bad' are only meaningful in relationship to a society in general. Societies flourish because on average, people contribute enough to them for everyone to be able to reap the benefits. You have people who provide food, people who provide tools, people who provide leadership to keep the whole thing running, etc etc. But if you have a nitwit in there that keeps randomly killing the farmers, he risks starving everyone. So killing productive farmers is definitely a bad thing. On the other hand, nourishing a sick person increases that person's chance of survival, so you decrease the odds that you lose manpower. So caring for the sick is a good thing.

So all of this kind of reflects back on what people expect to get in return for being part of a society: food, shelter, protection from harm, intellectual stimulation, video games, ... Actions that help the society provide these things are "good", while things that inhibit or harm society's ability to provide these are "bad". It might be a bit of a cynical view, but I don't think there's any other way to objectively rationalize any kind of morality. But then again, a question that comes to mind is "Is it good/bad/moral/just to rationalize morality?", and we're off to paradox land.
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