Social Question

Disc2021's avatar

Do good people do bad things; do bad people do good things?

Asked by Disc2021 (4491points) October 10th, 2009

Answer this question with your thinking cap – “yes” or “no” isn’t what I’m looking for!

Um, okay, I was told to edit this… soo – What is your take on this? Do you believe that bad people are always bad or that good people are always good? Does the nicest person ever snap? Does the meanest person have a heart?

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35 Answers

Samurai's avatar

Yes, as in yin and yang. Yin has a bit of yang in it and yang has a bit of yin in it, but who’s to say whats bad and whats good?

AstroChuck's avatar


Sorry. Can’t find my thinking cap.

DrBill's avatar

Yes, on both counts.

Jayne's avatar

Define your terms, please.

Zen's avatar

Yep and yep.

I’m basically a good person – I do bad things sometimes. Sometimes, I even mean to do bad things. I may or may not be sorry about them afterwards (I usually am – I have a conscience (notice how it is spelt con science).

Bad people are all around us; Murderers and rapists: why are they not immediately imminent? Maybe because they do some good things that lull and fool us, until they commit their evil crimes.

rooeytoo's avatar

Nobody is perfect!

loser's avatar

I lost my thinking cap years ago but here goes…
Yes, people do things.

Grisaille's avatar

Good and bad are entirely subjective terms. In fact, they are definitively subjective.

So yes. With every decision we make, it is both good and bad – always and forever.

evegrimm's avatar

I’m surprised no one’s brought up the quote.

“With or without it [religion], you’d have good people doing good things and evil people doing bad things, but for good people to do bad things, it takes religion.”

—Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate in physics

I’m not saying I agree with it, it just ties in nicely with your question. :P

Okay, for an actual answer, I’m going to be a total nerd and answer that yes, bad people can do good things, as seen in InuYasha when Sesshoumaru “adopts” Rin. It’s nice and sweet and totally out of character for Sesshoumaru unless we understand that bad people aren’t one-dimensional, we just often judge them that way because it’s easier to comprehend/hate.

(There are definite exceptions to this, but I think in RL, prisoners adopting/caring/rehabilitating (for) dogs is a good example of the idea that bad people aren’t just bad; they’re human, and human motivation/psyche is affected by so many things that summing up an entire person’s existence in a word is simpleminded, at best.)

derekfnord's avatar

I think that—with very few exceptions—there aren’t “good people” and “bad people.” There are just people… most of whom do some mix of good things and bad things all the time. Almost no one is 100% without redeeming traits, or 100% without flaw…

LostInParadise's avatar

There is no such thing as gratuitous evil. We all think of ourselves as being good. A person who commits a crime to support a family would say that it was a necessary thing to do. There are people who live exemplary personal lives yet take an active role in corporations that do environmental damage or exploit poor people.

oratio's avatar

Yes. I think all people believe they are righteous in their way as @LostInParadise says. Everyone is driven by motives, that they themselves justify. Good and evil is a matter of perspective, and most often judged by the agreed values of the majority at that place in that time. Opinions sway however, and what was deemed good at one time, is sometimes deemed evil by the majority of another.

That there are no truly evil people seems evident. Does that mean that there are no truly good people? Probably.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Everyone is human. The inherent dichotomy is that good and evil can exist side by side.

Not sure where you are going with this question, but you might find this of interest.

janbb's avatar

Of course; nobody is wholely one thing or the other. One may be basically good or basically bad based on the preponderance of good or evil that you do.

dpworkin's avatar

We are primates with a long evolutionary history of violence, jealousy, infanticide, tribal conflict, forced copulation, self-dealing, trickery and other forms of deceit, all hard-wired and none of it going away any time soon.

Jack79's avatar

I don’t believe people are “good” and “bad”. Everybody is capable of the most amazing range of actions and emotions, and the same person who’ll torture your mother to death will save your life a minute later. The process is a lot more complicated than we may realise, but I have personally seen people turn into one or the other direction unexpectedly. Cowards can become heroes, saints can become villains, the most peaceful person can go into a rage and the most hyperactive optimist fall into depression and commit suicide. Humans are just weird.

tinyfaery's avatar

There are no good and bad people, because there is no bad and good; everything is perception, and our perceptions seemed to be based on how things effect us. So really all we have is choice and consequence. We can make bad choices and good choices, but it’s still our own perceptions that determine what we define as good and bad.

janbb's avatar

Actually, I don’t believe there is no good and bad; I think we as a society have decided that such things as child molestation and serila murder are bad things and that people who do them are usually bad people. There may be mitigating circumstances in some cases and many moral standards may be open to subjective judgment but I think abusive or sadistic behavior is bad. Societal standards may change and there may be a continuum on which someone is not totally good or bad – I think none of us are totally one or the other – but there is a difference. Am I just old-fashioned in my opinions?

dpworkin's avatar

I’m with @janbb. Serila murder is the wrost.

oratio's avatar

@janbb No, I agree. But at the same time I understand what @tinyfaery is saying. I think most people can agree on that good, bad and evil doesn’t exist on it’s own, but is a quality we decide and revise as generations take over.

@pdworkin Silly bear :)

janbb's avatar

People who don’t proofread are bad, evil people!

Yes, I certainly agree with that point that standards are culturally determined and can change over time.

dpworkin's avatar

wait. you mean trix are for kids?

janbb's avatar

that’s “silly rabbit;” Pooh is “silly bear.”

lloydbird's avatar

There is no such thing as “bad people”, only different kinds of “good”.

Good people do good and good people do bad.
Circumstances make the difference.

dpworkin's avatar

well, bump, bump, bump

janbb's avatar

Did Pooh attend the School of Hard Knocks?

filmfann's avatar

In bad economic times, such as this, I have seen good people do bad things.

bea2345's avatar

“There is so much good in the worst of us
And so much bad in the best of us
That it little behoves any of us
To speak about the rest of us.”

This is painted on a board that has hung in my mother’s house for 70 years. It was a present from her sister. All of us children learned to read it almost before we learned to read anything else.

wundayatta's avatar

The truth is that good people eat lobster, but bad people eat lobster. Unless you’re looking in a mirror, in which case, it’s the other way around.

Thammuz's avatar

I’ll answer with a question: what is a “good person”? what is a “bad person”? What makes an action “good or “bad”?

Jeruba's avatar

Most actions are fairly neutral. An action can be performed with bad intent. Is it bad if it benefits someone? An action can be performed with good intent. Is it good if it harms someone?

It is not possible to perform nothing but bad acts. Imagine a totally bad person, as evil as someone can be. Does that person feed himself? Is it bad to feed oneself? Does that person have minions who do his bidding, and does he look after their interests in return? Is it bad to care for and protect someone? Does that person enjoy feeling full, or rested, or entertained? Is it bad to enjoy something?

The more we talk about it, the harder it is to make sense talking about it. That’s because we’re operating without definitions of bad and good and we’re also imagining a dichotomy instead of a continuum. So we could ramble on about it, but we won’t shed any light.

Nobody thinks of himself as the bad guy.

bea2345's avatar

@daloonUnless you’re looking in a mirror, in which case, it’s the other way around. almost I am afraid to ask. Do lobsters eat people, both good and bad?

wundayatta's avatar

I do believe that lobsters are not really scavengers. So lobsters have better sense than to even consider whether a person is good or bad. The sea urchin will do just fine, thank you.

BlackSeptember's avatar

I have fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan and have done bad things to bad people for a better world; a world that people like me cannot live in. So, good and evil are religious concepts that generally get deluded in the social environment that we live in. The bottom line is that there are few absolutes and therefore we will always have bad people that need to have bad things happen to them.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Yes and Yes. Didn’t Hitler have a pet dog he was wonderful too?

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