What is good?

A thing is good when it has all the properties it is supposed to have, or put another way, a thing is good when it fulfills its definition. In other words, goodness is the fulfillment of anything's concept or definition.

The value predicate "good", thus is a property of concepts rather than of objects. When a person understands that a thing "is good," is is not necessary that he knows anything of the thing in question; but he must know something of the concept of which the thing is an instance. He must know what is an automobile but he does not have to know what is my automobile. The word "good" applies not to the knowledge of the particular automobile but to the knowledge of the concept "automobile."

A thing is good if it fulfills the intension of its concept.

Anything which under one concept is good because it fulfills the concept may under another concept be bad because it does not fulfill that concept. Thus, as Spinoza observed, a good ruin is a bad house, and a good house is a bad ruin. It is art of the optimist always to find that concept in terms of which the thing appears good, and that of the pessimist always to find that concept in terms of which that thing appears bad. The thing is always the same...

Since the good is not a descriptive property but a logical one it cannot be grasped by the senses. It is in this respect an "irreal" quality, as the phenomenologists hold. Trying to catch it by naturalistic methods is like capturing an electron by observation. The unreality or nondecriptiveness of good is like an uncertainty relation of moral science. The only way to penetrate to goodness is by the eye of the mind, a Gedankenexperiment in the sense of Planck, an intuition in the sense of Moore. One has to capture its formal structure.

According to the axiom, a thing is good if it has all its intensional properties, fair if it has more intensional properties than it lacks, bad if it lacks more than it has, and no good if it lacks most of the intensional properties. We were able in this way to define the fundamental value terms.

Good has to do with concepts, not objects.

--Robert S. Hartman

What is good?

Good and evil come into existence as defined by power, and are shaped to protect power. They filter down from rulers, magistrates, educators, from bishops, priests, and Sunday school teachers to parents, who shape the conscience of children, imprint the limits, instill the guilt.

--Allen Wheelis