The Nature of Man (in my humble opinion)

Okay my original post was much much longer. My stupid computer froze up so now I am just going to do a short summary of my thoughts.

The statement that instigated this train of thought was as follows: "There are no bad people, just good people who do bad things."

If people are not characterized by their actions, then what is it that makes a person what they are? People's actions are based on their beliefs, no matter how brief or minor those beliefs are held. When one performs an action, they believe it to be the right thing to do at that exact moment, whether or not they agree with it in reflection. At the time the action was performed, the person's beliefs and feelings had them do what it is they did. If people were characterized and judged by their thoughts rather than their actions, it would be a rather complex time. People's actions are a result of their thoughts. When I say thought, I am not speaking of premeditated actions. I mean that at that exact moment the person did what they thought they should.

I believe that one's sense of right and wrong are developed and not something that is given at birth. Otherwise, issues such as slavery and the holocaust are a bit hard to comprehend. People's views of what is right and wrong is a product of their culture, society, and age. Right and wrong is not a "god-given" sense. If it was, then it seems that god (lower cased g on purpose) happened to pick and choose who got what sense.

I do not believe people are inherently good or bad. I do not disagree with humanists however though. I believe that one's sense of right and wrong is a result of inner selfish motives. I use the term selfish loosly in this situation. Selfish can mean volunteering because it gives one satisfaction. Rewards do not have to be external. Right and wrong is basically developed according to the "do unto others as one would have done unto themselves" phrase. People view something as right or wrong because they apply it to themselves. This is why their is debates such as abortion and gay marriage. Those who do not agree do so because they do not want it for themselves and they don't think anyone should behave that way. They would think differently if they were in the other shoes. This in itself argues the fact that all people are generally good. If this was true, anarcy should work. People need consequences to deter themselves from making certain decisions. The government does not decide what it right or wrong, merely what is legal and illegal.

Summation: People are neither good nor bad. People merely exist and make decisions based on their beliefs and feelings at the time. One's sense of right and wrong are relative. Right and wrong is not black and white.

kill one person your a murderer, kill 10, 000 people your a great general, kill everyone your god.

GeneralRamos's picture

Interesting post. The idea

Interesting post. The idea that people's moral decisions are based on their predisposition at any given time is interesting. I hadn't really placed time into the equation before, and it seems indeed to be an important thing to note. I would not have made many of the same decisions I would now three years ago.
This reinforces the idea that morals are sitautionally relative, because the things that have occured in your life will determine how you view and react in a situation, and thus alter your decision.

keasbynights241's picture

You believe in moral

You believe in moral relativism?

As in... Murder is wrong until you think it's right and that changes everything?

GeneralRamos's picture

It doesn't sound like he's

It doesn't sound like he's advocating moral relativism. The post seemed mostly a reflection on the fact that people's viewpoints are determined by the events that have happened up to that point. They may THINK that it's right, though it doesn't necessarily make a decision moral or immoral. It's merely a justification of why they arrived at the point they did.

And depending on how vague you are idenitifying your moral code, there is a degree of relativism. So long as your code is spelled in blanket 'morals' (such as not killing), then your morality is going to have to be relative and subjective to the situation. If your moral code takes every situation case by case and has every posible scenario laid out (which no moral code really does), then it would be free from subjectivity. The need for using logic in morality means there can be no absolute moral code unless it handles each possible situation individually.

keasbynights241's picture

I agree to an extent: I

I agree to an extent: I believe that relativism can't be right because if murder is the wrongful taking of someone's life, then no matter who believes that isn't so, murder still isn't right. There are touchy subjects though where I agree relativism comes into play such as abortion (which there is a huge thread about) and stuff like being a vegetarian.

I bought these 8 disc set called "How to Think like a Philosopher" and there are really, really good lectures about morals and ethics. It's by this professor Colin McGinn from Oxford, I highly recommend (sp?) it.

GeneralRamos's picture

I might check it out. And

I might check it out. And one day I'll start hitting up the forum here, just haven't gotten around to it.

As far as murder though, there would be instances in which murder could be a morally sound decision. Namely, when the murder of one directly results in the saving of the lives of many, in a situation with no other choices.

keasbynights241's picture

That's why I defined murder

That's why I defined murder as the wrongful taking of an innocent person's life. Upon reading I didn't use the word innocent... But, yes you are right. There are instances when killing wouldn't necessarily be wrong.

For right and wrong to exist

For right and wrong to exist in pure form, there would have to be some sort of code or source for this knowledge. People who lack perspective tend to be more likely to come of as immoral due to their innablity to understand others actions or thoughts. There can be something deemed as socially acceptable or innacceptable, but that doesn't make it ultimately right or wrong.