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josie's avatar

Can evil exist in the presence of a committed good?

Asked by josie (30827points) January 15th, 2014

I think, in haste, I gave a misleading answer to this question
The point I was trying to make is that the good has no objective antithesis. There is no reason to oppose the good. There is no negative consequence to ignoring the good.
On the other hand, if the good does not actively confront evil, there is a distinct negative consequence.
I am trying to make up for my laziness. Thus this question.

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15 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I need to think this through in the context of a question I was considering. My evil side has been trying to surface. I need to think this one through.

glacial's avatar

“There is no negative consequence to ignoring the good.”

This is a bit iffy. Look at duty to rescue laws and why they exist. If the good is to stop to pull someone out of a dangerous situation, and one ignores that good, in some places they can be breaking the law – so there are not just moral consequences, but legal ones as well.

However, I don’t really believe in good and evil as objective forces, so while I think that we are morally compelled to do the right thing, I don’t think that refusing to do so constitutes evil per se. I just think it would be acting wrongly.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Great question and discussion topic @josie.

So many directions this could go. I hope people take the time to define their interpretation of the words “good” and “evil” so we can better understand one another.

No comments beyond that right now. I’m very interested in hearing what others have to say.

ISmart's avatar

sure, greed will always show its ugly face

AshLeigh's avatar

One cannot exist without the other.

kess's avatar

Good is an active state of being and does not have to do any other thing except be.

It has no opposition, simply because it is establish upon the subjugation of any and all opposition.

Evil does not neither can it ever exist, except within the idea of the possibility of an opposition to good, so then we see that evil itself is that specific idea.

flutherother's avatar

Good isn’t an objective quality and that is why they say, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” You should always examine the consequences of your actions, tiresome though that may be.

DWW25921's avatar

I’m a little confused and I hope I’m answering this right but I had a thought after I read your description. A docile “good” isn’t really good at all. I suppose the same goes for evil. Although struggles generally make people stronger for the experience so if good and evil are fighting wouldn’t that just encourage a never ending battle? Aren’t those who ignore good themselves bad by default? Meh… that’s all I got.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Evil has to exist, doesn’t it? To make freedom of choice a reality. We have to pursue good, or evil might creep in. That’s really abstract for this early in the AM, but I’m still thinking this through.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Is this kind of like ‘Bad thing’s happen to good people all the time.” ?

True evil though, I don’t believe it can exist if you’re committed to good.

Personally I avoid all evil as much as possible whether it’s playing with a ouija board, evil people, evil deeds, whatever, I’m out with all that and it’s working for me. Bad thing’s still happen sometimes, but not evil.

glacial's avatar

@KNOWITALL I don’t know… putting an apostrophe in the word “things” is pretty evil. ;)

YARNLADY's avatar

There is no such thing a good and evil. There are only favorable outcomes or unfavorable outcomes.

ibstubro's avatar

The existence of so many different religions proves that there are no universal definitions of “good” and “evil”, so there is danger in ignoring and confronting either.

“There is no negative consequence to ignoring the good.” Like that sweet, kindly neighborhood priest that’s been diddling the kiddies for decades.

”...if the good does not actively confront evil, there is a distinct negative consequence.” Like the good Samaritan that tries to intervene in a robbery with a toy gun and is inadvertently shot to death by the store clerk.

Good and evil are subjective and we should never stop weighing them in our minds. When you become ‘certain’ you know conceptual good from evil, you’re immediately wrong.

Paradox25's avatar

This is a tricky question in which these points are often brought up in debates between theists and atheists. I figure that it has to be one way or the other here though. If ‘good’ really has no objective antithesis then in what other way can we define what we’re supposed to oppose or not be indifferent to?

Without any objective definition of good there appears to be only one other alternative that I can think of, one of which the OP may not like: utilitarianism, meaning actions that produce the greatest amount of ‘good’ outcomes for the largest amount of people. I’m definitely not a diehard utilitarian though, and personally any action that does the greatest amount of good for most others, but comes at the expense of the welfare of other ‘non-bad’ entities needs to be seriously reviewed in my opinion.

Ironically I feel that individual liberty, when this doesn’t hurt the individual liberties of others, ultimately does lead to a positive version of utilitarianism in an inadvertant way. I love these types of questions since they allow me to demonstrate my pseudointellectualism, but I am serious about my post here, and I stand by my last answer. The problem tends to be that individualism, like utilitarianism can go horribly wrong, which is why they probably say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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