Despite its many different meanings, the term good has one common element: it refers to a quality that fills a need or desire. This quality is not necessarily identical with the ontological good, which is the state of being. However, if we trace the development of the term good in a variety of different ways, we will be able to gain insight into how it has been refined in various ways by different philosophers.
The term good is commonly used in ethics to denote a quality that will be conducive to the happiness of an individual. It also refers to a property of an agent that accentuates his or her human luster. In addition, it is often used to refer to a motivation behind human action.
Although the term good can refer to anything that fills a need or desire, there are three main kinds of views on the good: objective, subjective, and ontological. These views are based on different levels of knowledge and noncognitive attitudes. While both subjective and objective views have been developed in the past, there are two traditions that are primarily focused on the good.
An objective view of good is based on the principle that the value of a good will be a consequence of the actions of the agent. Utilitarians, for example, claim that an act is good if it conforms to the right reason. While this definition may be appealing, it is actually a rather subjective approach.