Sunday, February 23, 2014

[PHI 1000] Born Bad

To be bad, does one have to do bad deeds? Or can one be bad without doing bad deeds?

Suppose that Mallory has never done anything bad in her life. She never lies, cheats, steals, tortures, kills, etc. However, she does derive great pleasure from seeing others suffer. Watching a kitten run over by a truck makes her feel great. She enjoys watching people and animals in pain. She never actually caused anyone any pain. But she really likes to watch sentient beings suffer.

Is Mallory a bad person?

1 comment:

  1. (Excuse the verbose comment. I understand philosophy should be as clear and concise as possible, but it took me awhile to express my point in my head.)

    With any good or bad dilemma, it depends on how we mean "good" and "bad." If lying, cheating, stealing, etc. is bad, then any practice which supports these actions must be bad.

    The real question should be: Is Mallory supporting those actions? If she is, she is a bad person; if she is not, she has the potential to be considered a good person. I argue that Mallory is a bad based on the belief that is she is not attempting to stop bad things from happening, she is supporting those things happening. If she is supporting those bad things happening, she is a bad person.

    But why, if she does nothing, is she supporting those bad things? Someone might say she is doing neither. Wrong. By choosing to not stop something bad from happening, she is choosing the role of the passive supporter in not feeling the necessity that something being done is bad. If she is ignorant of the bad thing happening, then she cannot be called a bad person. In addition, if she receives pleasure from seeing bad things happening, but does not know they are bad, she still has the potential to be a good person. But if she becomes aware of something bad happening or knows that something bad is happening then she has the responsibility to take action on account of that bad thing. She only has two options: to do something or not to do something about it. To take pleasure in any of the bad things happening and does not do anything to prevent them, she chooses to let those bad things happen. In a way, she chooses for them TO happen. This supports the bad action; therefore, she is a bad person.


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