So apparently, every time I state that something (or someone) is good, several people feel the need to ask me to define "good."

I understand the moral, philosophical, relative implications of the concept, but do we really need to define "good" every time? For a very common word that most people use on a daily basis, one would think we have a somewhat common general concept of what one means by "good," however this is one of those concepts that people think deserve a "personal" definition.

So, what does "good" mean anyway?


I cross-posted this question on Google Plus. Link bellow in case you are interested in reading the comments.

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"I am good without god." Will you ask me to define "good"?

Amusingly, but not surprisingly, it is always the non-theists who ask these questions. I tend to go with something along the lines: I try to decrease other people's suffering and increase their happiness and wel-being, when possible.

So would this merely be like, 'I am fine without god'?

I find that people who don't have a thoughtful or intelligent answer to your comment, and just want to pick a fight, need to come up with a nonsensical response like "what do you mean by good". Definitions can be examined and twisted to meet people's needs, in the case of your comment, to make people think that your version of good is not good enough. So no, we nor do you really need to define it.


Definitions of a word like good, as it is being used by you does not need to be analyzed. As it is almost universally recognized:


right: proper; fit:   It is good that you are here. His credentials are good.   


Yes, I agree... In that example, you're likely just getting trolloled. Albeit the English language inherited the one-word-many-definitions problem of Latin for example. So maybe they're wondering if you mean specifically 'fine', or rather 'morally correct/acceptable'... or something. Maybe just answer with a 'What do you mean, what do you mean?'  question, hah, or tersely rephrase it.

I would say that by default "good" means good for you, as in OK or acceptable to you. That is probably the least deniable meaning when anyone uses the word, irrespective of the meaning they intend.

Obviously most people are inferring a greater meaning, perhaps even suggesting an objective judgement or truth of some kind.

Personally I think to can build up to a practical objective-like judgement by starting with "good for you" and just adding all the necessary related factors in as you go.

For instance, as an extreme example, it may be "good for you" to kill some bothersome individual if you limit the cost benefits to include only the moment and your self. As you extend the scope in time and social reach then quickly it becomes bad for you.

Your example statement "I am good without god" is kind of an illustration of this in a more general sense, in that the implication is that you are in harmony with your community without a believe in God to encourage you to be so. So, you are encompassing the social group into the cost benefit showing that your good is aligned with that of the community as a whole.

So, to paraphrase, good in that case is "in harmony with the community" or some other phrasing with the same meaning which your listener would be able to parse.

I don't think it is obvious from the post which meaning is intended there.

Which of course illustrates the need for definitions.

Strange, the reply to which I was replying seems to have disappeared.

Sorry Chris that was my fault. I was trying to edit it and deleted it.

The word “good” is universally understood. The word itself is never subjective, the meaning always remains the same. What is subjective, however, is the context in which we apply it to describe something (generally a person or action). So, asking one to define “good” is pointless, its meaning will never change.

The opposite of bad??? lol.

A good person is one who strives to optimize his choices under uncertainty to ensure a Pareto efficient outcome:


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