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Humans: Inherently good or evil?

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10/19/2013 2:46:45 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
I had this thought a while back and I was curious about what others thought.

In my poly sci class we were being lectured over the basic structure of ye average constitution, which of course necessitated a discussion of Locke and Hobbes with the classic "Humans suck" versus "Humans aren't that bad" view. Since most of my class was of the opinion that humans are inherently good (seriously, would you wanna be that one kid in class who stood up to say that humans suck? Talk about awkward), I held my own skeptical beliefs and mentally debated the issue to myself.

My thought process was this. In order for humanity to be inherently "good" (how you define good is really up to you in this case), we would have to know moral and immoral without being informed of such; it would just be moral/immoral and that would be that.

But that isn't consistent with the way in which we function. We have these things called moral compasses, that come to us in the form of our beliefs, opinions, values, and so on, that guide us in our attempts to decipher the world and discover what we ought to do and what we ought not do.

But why would we need moral compasses if we were inherently good? If we were inherently good, we would already inherently know what was right and wrong, and wouldn't need some kind of moral compass to prod us in the right direction every now and then. We would just know and that would be the end of it. The answer is we wouldn't need them.

This leads me to my next question of can we get rid of these moral compasses and still act in moral and immoral ways as rational actors. I come to the conclusion that we can't. If I'm stripped of my moral compass, stripped of all my beliefs and opinions and values, I'm left with nothing. I have no opinion on anything, no values placed in anything. I essentially become indifferent to everything, an amoral force in the universe that performs actions without intentions. I'd essentially have the same moral culpability as a hurricane or tornado. While I could act in moral ways, as well as in immoral ways, I couldn't be categorized as a moral or immoral actor because that intention isn't there. I'd just be amoral, which doesn't fit what I would need to be to be inherently good.

So I end up at the conclusion that because we have moral compasses, we cannot be inherently good. This seems that it would leave one choice left, but it doesn't quite fit either. We'd still need something telling us what to do to act in the ways that we ought not to. So if we aren't inherently moral or inherently immoral, what are we? Are we just inherently amoral, acting without agency until we develop enough to hold rational opinions and ideals that give us some kind of moral compass and, thus, some form of agency? I would rather not have to believe that.

Can someone tell me where I'm going wrong here? I'm almost certain there's an error in my logic somewhere but I can't find it.
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10/19/2013 10:52:58 AM
Posted: 4 years ago
There is no inherency, good or evil.
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10/22/2013 5:40:06 PM
Posted: 4 years ago
Define the concept of "human". That's the main issue here. If one needs to be inherently good or evil to be a human, according to your definition, at least, then humans are inherently good or evil. If it is unspecified, then no, they are neither.