I have been asked to respond to the following comment:
Wait so your assertion about not doing evil basically distills down to "Because I want to be a good person and not do harm." How is this anymore valid than "Because I want to be bad and do evil."? If you can answer this without using a social construct and only natural law i would love to here your Answer. (Don't bother quoting Locke he does not answer this question, or Mill, or Bentham)
Well, the first part is wrong.
A person acts to fulfill the most and strongest of their desires, given their belief. There is certainly room for a desires to be a good person and an aversion to causing harm - accompanied by beliefs that a good person has certain qualities and that certain states constitute harm. However, these will always be a small part of any person's motivational structure.
The first part is actually an empty statement. It says that a good person acts because "he wants to be a good person." Which means he acts because he wants to be somebody who wants to be a good person. Which means that he acts because he wants to be somebody who acts because he wants to be a good person. And so on, ad infinitum. It doesn't say anything about what a good person is.
Another problem with this statement can be illustrated by the fact that a good person seldom acts from a desire to be a good person. A classic example is that of visiting a sick friend in the hospital. A person motivated to come to the hospital because, "I want to be a good person and this is what good people do," has already failed the good person test.
The good person goes to the hospital because, "I care about you. I want to make sure you are doing well, and see if I can help - not because I want to be a good person, but because I am your friend. I don't care about being a good person. I care about you."
The parent who shows up at a child's school play out of a sense of duty just isn't as good a father as the one who is there because he is genuinely interested in his child's activities and enjoys the opportunity to watch his child participate on those activities.
Perhaps I am not interpreting the comment correctly. I could interpret it as saying, "I want to be a good person - which is to be understood as somebody who does not do harm." Taken this way, the comment can be more economically written as, "Wait. so, your assertion about not doing evil basically distills down to, 'I want not to do harm.'"
I agree that a person with an aversion to doing harm will avoid some evils - though he will have no reason to avoid or prevent harms caused by others. However, this will still only be one desire among many. It will live in the brain in the company of hunger, thirst, preferences for and aversions to particular food and drink, an aversion to pain, desires for certain sex acts, special affections for family and friends, and a whole host of interests from space studies to stamp collecting.
You will never, ever act solely on a desire not to do harm. And, given the mass of desires most of us have, the aversion to doing harm will seldom play the deciding role.
To avoid doing evil, you need more than a desire to be a good person. You need good desires. Good people and evil people both act to fulfill the most and strongest of their desires, given their beliefs. Beliefs aim at reporting what is true in the world. If our two agents both had true beliefs, they would agree on all matters of fact. That would not explain their different actions. Those differences are explained by differences in desires. If you want to get the evil agent to avoid doing evil, you change his desires.
What makes a desire good? Well, it's a desire that people have reason to promote using social forces such as praise and condemnation. And the desires that people generally have reason to promote using praise and condemnation are those that would fulfill other desires. Whereas, desires that thwart other desires are desires that people have reason to inhibit through social forces.
Which is why morality is all about praise, condemnation, reward, and punishment.
Take the desire for sex, for example. If you put this desire up against the aversion to doing harm, then the desire for sex will likely win out at least some portion of the time. However, if the desire for sex is actually "a desire to make love to a willing adult partner whose welfare is important to me", then a general aversion to doing harm is not even necessary.
So, people generally have reason to use social forces such as praise and condemnation to mold the desire for sex into "a desire to make love to a willing adult partner whose welfare is important to me" - by praising (so as to strengthen the relevant desires for) this form of sex, and condemning (so as to promote aversions to) those forms that do not fit this mold.
So, it is not the case that desirism, which I employ in these posts, says that "not doing evil basically distills down to "Because I want to be a good person and not do harm." Not doing evil distills down to having those desires people generally have reason to promote, and not having those desires people generally have reason to inhibit. This probably includes a desire to be a good person - with non-empty account of what a "good person" is, and an aversion to causing harm. But these will always be two desires in a long list of desires that agents have - natural and learned. Since agents always act so as to fulfill the most and strongest of all of their desires given their beliefs, you cannot distill morality down to just one or two.