Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Who Creates the Standards for what is Good/Bad?

            While it would be nice if we could put things in boxes of “good” and “bad,” I believe there is a large grey area between the two. It seems that Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mills had a limited perception on the matter. Mills held the opinion that pleasure is the only thing desired, therefore pleasure is the only thing desirable. Bentham said that pleasure is good, and pain is bad. These are hard statement to completely agree with, as there are many situations in which the idea of what is “pleasurable” may be questioned.
Most of us spend our lives surrounding ourselves with the friends, family, activities, and jobs that are most pleasurable to us. We do, generally, seek out the things that are personally most desirable to us. However, we are also aware that the things we personally view as pleasurable may not be viewed as pleasurable by somebody else. A question of morality comes in to play here. Should we be willing to sacrifice our own pleasure in order to help someone else achieve theirs? Is the satisfaction of helping someone else pleasurable in itself? Is there a universal standard for what is good and what is bad? The idea of “pleasure” is abstract, and depends heavily on the situation at hand.

Mills and Bentham’s views on pleasure are true to an extent, but have many flaws on a larger scale. Who decides what is pleasurable? Is there really any way to measure it? These views work as general statements, but fail when applied to more difficult circumstances.


  1. (H3) I don't really relate good to pleasure and bad to pain like Bentham. I base it more on intent. If you do something because you believe it is right and just, than your intentions were good, and vice versa. I have no idea who sets the standards. I guess each of us has our own ultimate authority, to some it is themselves or God or something else. However, like you said, there are exceptions to this and most rules.

  2. (H1) I believe that we derive a form of pleasure from giving up what we want and helping someone else achieve what they desire. That being said, does it count since it isn't the real pleasure that we were seeking?

  3. (H3) I believe that pleasure does not define good because each person has an individual definition of pleasure. For serial killers it could be murdering people but because that is pleasurable does that mean it is good? Of course not.

  4. Kaite Berry H0111:54 AM CST

    I agree with Megan that pleasure and good are not two things that should be used together. Saying that pleasure is absolutely inherently the same as being good is like saying that a biscuit is bread. While the two are related, they are in no way the same thing and cannot even be used the same way. I believe that by using these things together they were simply looking for an easy way out, an easy answer to one of the hardest questions we are faced with. Obviously the question is something that has puzzled many for eons, why would something as simple as those answers really be true?