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.