What Is Good?

Good is an adjective that describes something that is positive or desirable in nature. Good things are usually preferred over bad ones, and they can be used to describe many different kinds of things: a good book, a nice house, or a good joke, for example.

Moreover, good can also refer to moral qualities: a good person, a good teacher, or a good deed. A good person is typically admired and respected by others. A good deed is usually a kind of action or statement that benefits someone else, but it can also be an act or statement that simply makes a person feel better about himself or herself.

For a long time, philosophers have studied the concept of good. One of the earliest such studies came from Immanuel Kant, who discussed the concept in his Critique of Practical Reason. Kant’s discussions of good are often thought to be foundational for modern ethical and philosophical discussions of the concept.

Traditionally, philosophical discussions of good have focused on the idea that there are some actions and behaviors that are intrinsically morally right or wrong. More recently, however, philosophers have shifted to focus on the idea that good is a matter of what is valuable and important in a given context. This is sometimes called the hedonistic view of the good.

A key issue in philosophical discussions of the good is whether or not goods are universal. For example, some people think that there are certain things that are good for everyone, such as clean water or free speech. Other people, however, believe that the notion of what is good is more complicated and varies by culture and circumstance.

In addition to considering the question of what is good, philosophers have also debated how to determine what is good. Some have argued that goodness is determined by the effects that a particular activity has on the person who is doing it. Other philosophers, including Moore, have argued that the good is a matter of what will ultimately bring about a certain outcome or result: the “good” of an action can be understood as the property or quality that will cause it to lead to a desired effect.

In everyday language, good is commonly used as an adjective after linking verbs such as taste, smell, look, or feel: This soup tastes good. The dress looks good on you. It is also common to use the word as an adverb, especially after forms of the verb do: He did good on the test. This usage, however, is usually not acceptable in formal or edited writing. See Usage Note at well2.