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We have pages like VotingIsGood, VotingIsEvil and EvilIsEvil.

If language means a thing to us, we should try to make sure we agree on what GoodAndEvil means in this context, maybe even what GoodAndEvil means in general, and maybe even make these consistent.

Defining GoodAndEvil we have basically two choices: we can give these terms absolute or relative meanings. Absolute may mean for example "given by God", "according to our law" or "as my conscience tells me". While there is nothing wrong with these, we know from experience that these absolute defintions of "good" only work in a limited context. There are many gods, many different laws and cultures and of course billions of people feeling differently. But an absolute "good" is a simple solution and it works for most of the people most of the time. There are just some problems: an absolute "good" does neither help to understand people nor bridge the gaps between them.

So my suggestion is to radically forget about an absolute definition of "good" and try a relative definition instead. Obviously we need another reference system to replace the position of "God" in the absolute definition. As Meatball is about communities, why not just do the simplest thing possible and take the community as a reference system? Of course Meatball isn't really interesting to define "good" but we have lots of communities at hand. Christianity to define a "good" based on the Bible. Our society to define "good" in form of laws (did I tell that we don't have a death penalty). A father who tells his son what is "good" as seen from his family tradition and cultural context. A mafia clan which defines a "good" that allows them to kill people (of course outside of what they perceive as their community).

Looking at this, it's only a small step to see that "good" is not much more than a shorthand representation for the idea of "advantage for our community", whatever the community is. Maybe a bit shocking, because we are not used to talk openly about seeking advantages, but that's it. But relax, if we identify God with the overall universe and the community of all living creatures then we again get a convincing "good" as something that's "best for all of us" and we can feel comfortable again.

Turning back to VotingIsGood and VotingIsEvil these easily translate into "I think voting offers no advantages to us(me)" and "I think voting would give us(me) advantages" which seems much more understandable and to the point.

There are a few nice things about this little "theory" in relation to online communities: it would explain why people hate when they hear an "us" in a discussion about values (they feel to be pushed outside of the community and hopeless with their new definition of what is "good"). And the difficulty to change community values: they are perceived as advantagous and defining "good" and the border of the community at the same time. Anyone from the outside trying to change community values has a hard time, because he is perceived as looking for his own advantages at the cost of the community (and of course he again talks that the changes would be "good"). So the concept of "good" stabilizes the community, especially if "good" is seen absolutely.

Of course, GoodAndEvil only make sense in the context of decisions. If there are no decisions or no freedom of choice there is no good and no evil. The world of physics has no choice and no evil, systems go for the most advantagous distribution of energy in the "now". The choice enters the pciture when creatures start to think about the future. They try to create options by trading advantages in the present for bigger advantages in the future. And communities expect that individuals don't use their choice to seek advantages damaging communities at the same time. So individuals are bound by the concept of "good". Which is an interesting cultural invention that seems to work quite "good" (to the advantage of the communities and their members) most of the time.

-- HelmutLeitner

I really like this suggestion since I have noticed that "GoodAndEvil" tend to be subjective judgements that generally cause individuals to clash. Worse yet, they are frequently used as 'rallying cries' by individuals who may well have undisclosed vested interests.

I pleased to see that someone else has given this thought and cares enough to have made a positive suggestion. I, for one, will try to make this improvement in my communictaions.

P.S. If (after a sufficient period of time to assess this Communities reaction) there appears to be consensus, would we go so far as to start refactoring some of the existing references?

-- HansWobbe



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