The Moral Dilemma of Good and Bad

Good and Bad

I would ask, what defines a “good” person, what makes a “bad” person. Why do we as a society try to define these two extremes with simple messages, when the two aren’t as black and white as we immediately perceive. How do we have the experience or authority to define this?

Uses of Good and Bad

To start, as terms, good and bad are uniquely human. We try, as logical mind beings, to assign roles to objects and creatures, so we immediately know whether it’s a threat. It came from this, that we start to assign “good” or “bad.” “Goodness” and “Badness” are purely social constructs, there isn’t a deeper meaning to these terms. Good, “That which is morally right; righteousness” is a blanket term to try to moralize actions of some, when any action may be on a wide spectrum of righteousness. Bad is the pure blank opposite of good, what we perceive is immoral, or wrong. The issue with these 2 terms is that while they are good at describing something in a quick way, they quickly far apart when trying to determine the moral judgment of a physical person.

Subjectiveness of Good and Bad

Good and bad are also purely subjective terms. We perceive some actions as good, while some perceive them as bad. This fact is why moral dilemmas can happen, without the subjectiveness of good and bad, moral dilemmas couldn’t happen. As they are subjective, it narrows the applications of them even more, how can we call something good, when our own morals may be clouding our judgment. How can we let others decide what is good or bad, their judgment may be wrong.

Exemplification of Good and Bad

To exemplify this moral dilemma, I will examine how we are taught good and bad. We are taught from a very young age that we must follow rules, that our parents and government know what’s best for us. The moral grey line here is that we are also taught that there are “exceptions.” Take, for example, Robinhood, who breaks rules, but for a “good” cause. He is perceived as a “good guy,” because he breaks rules for a subjective morally “good” reason. We believe this because the story is presented from that side, think of the story from the other side, however, and the moral lines significantly change.

Addressing the Issue of Good and Bad

We believe things are good and bad because we are taught so from a “good” person. Labeling a person, or an action, good or bad, is incorrect on a fundamental level, as no matter how we try to label it with our flawed and subjective judgment, it is still our judgment, and we are not the supreme deciders of reason. We cannot call anything, good or bad, because the vast ocean between them, is purely just a stream in the giant landscape of moral judgment.

I ask you this, what actually makes something good? What makes them bad?

“The pendulum of the mind alternates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.” - Carl Jung
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1 thought on “The Moral Dilemma of Good and Bad

  1. I enjoyed reading that, Duncan. And that last line is probably the best metaphor I’ve seen used by a student this year.
    It is true that what we think is “good” or “right” may be thought of as “bad” or “wrong” by someone else. So what is the only way we can objectify these terms? What is the construct that allows for that?

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