Defining Good vs. Bad Behavior
I am a psychologist and therefore I have deep respect for psychology's most robust laws and principles: The Law of Effect is one such law.
I like to think of it this way: The Law of Effect is one of God’s truths discovered by science, but known by perceptive humans through all time.
The Law of Effect states that: Consequences Control Behavior.
The facts are that individuals, groups and sociocultures that do not abide by this law will suffer the consequences of increasingly chaotic behavior patterns. Much of this behavior will be bad because bad behavior normally requires less organization and planning, less patience, less effort, and leads to fast, or even instant, gratification (rewards). My general definitions for bad behavior is dumb, short-sighted, self-defeating, maladaptive, self-and-other destructive, damaging, irresponsible, mentally disturbed, criminal, selfish, addicted, murderous, or suicidal behavior, etc..
Defining and differentiating bad behavior and good behavior is not always a simple matter. Attempting to do so invites criticism, even social censure in this day and age. But we all do it. Its just that many of us have been intimidated, by modern political correctness and the prevailing philosophy of moral relativism, into keeping these judgements of good/bad or right/wrong to ourselves. By giving-in to these social pressures, we become incompetent at encouraging good behavior, in ourselves, our loved ones and others. This form of ethical incompetence is self-destructive for individuals, groups and sociocultures, which is the point of this discussion.
The growth of ethical ignorance and incompetence, and its predictable consequences, is exactly what is happening to America.
I have struggled with the problem of defining good behavior and bad behavior for many years. The best that I have been able to do is to blend several criteria as an aid to making such evaluations. Though this method is admittedly imperfect, in my judgement, it is far better than declaring that there are no rights/wrongs, or goods/bads, and embracing the behavioral chaos which naturally results from this perverted anti-ethical philosophy.
I define bad or undesirable behaviors as all behaviors (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and important physiological events such as extreme anger, fear, and anxiety) that:
A). Are prohibited by law. These criteria can change overtime, but they are generally a helpful guide.
B). Are represented as a Psychological Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV-Revised (DSM-IV). This is the diagnostic manual used by physicians and mental health professionals to determine who is suffering from significant mental problems.
C). Are listed in the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition (ICD-10). This diagnostic manual is used world round to diagnose both physical diseases and mental disorders.
D). Are behaviors competitive or incompatible with the main features of a healthy human personality as identified by psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow.
E). Are proscribed by the benevolent religions of the world.
I define Good or desirable behaviors as those behaviors (thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, and important physiological events such as good feelings, happiness and affection) that compete with, or are incompatible with, definitions A. B. and C., and those that are consistent with D).,Roger's and Maslow's definitions of a healthy personality and E)., the behavior patterns recommended by the benevolent religions of the world.
Again, the general criteria stated above are only a general guide. You may wish to research each of the references mentioned in order form your own opinions.
I believe it is essential to encourage good behavior and discourage bad behavior in our private lives and as citizens of our American Republic. There are many ways to do this through teaching, showing desirable role models, rewarding good behavior, and withholding rewards from bad behaviors. Much less frequently, in exceptional cases, it will be necessary to appropriately punish bad behaviors.
My study of the sciences of psychology/sociology/anthropology/economics, my experiences as a therapist, and my readings of the history of evolving and declining cultures, have taught me that:
Those who do not do recognize and use the law of effect , and other valuable psychological and social science principles, for the benefit of all, inevitably suffer the disastrous consequences of behavioral chaos.