Author Topic: What are the characteristics you use to determine is someone is a good person?  (Read 1314 times)

Greg Davidson

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First, in some other forums I have found some interesting and refreshing progress by asking positive-oriented question that still cover values, but don't necessarily align across the same old partisan boundaries. Second, I am curious if we would have agreement on this. And I am asking for practical experience, rather than theoretical doctrine. When you meet a new person, whether they are a neighbor, co-worker, or someone on the street, what considerations (if any) go through your head?

Fenring

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The first thing I do is to scan how they present themselves and see if anything is revealed that specially excites them, and I go right after that. Especially if it's in the area of values, but it could be a hobby or any passion. I happen to think that passion for things is more of a primary concern when connecting to someone else than other concerns because caring about any arbitrary thing is a guaranteed starting off point towards establishing that person's sense of value without you asking leading questions (which could confuse the matter).

There are people for whom nothing special seems to excite them, and that's huge data. Or if it does, which sorts of things? You can *always* go deeper into caring.

TheDrake

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Integrity above all else, but that's not easy to identify quickly. I don't generally judge whether someone is "good" or not based on meeting them on the street.

I guess the closest thing I have to the way the original question is framed would be a job interview, where you are in some ways trying to identify character. That's generally how references are used. I would call it exceedingly difficult to evaluate "goodness" through an initial meeting. Look at how many people have been conned into trusting someone.

I would also say that most people who do engage in such things are relying on stereotypes and dangerous shortcuts. John Oliver recently had a segment exploring how felons get their voting rights back in Florida, with a big loop of the Governor asking if the applicant goes to church, how often they go to church, where they go to church. Scary.

velcro

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Empathy, humility, and giving back to the community somehow, doesn't matter how.

JoshCrow

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My practical approach is usually to start by assuming this new person is "a good person" and watching for indications that they are not. Here I differentiate between a "good person" and someone "of quality" that I would like to spend time with... I'm mostly referring to some basic feeling that the person I'm dealing with is someone who means well in the world.

Certain behaviors can bump people off this default belief and are "red flags" of a sort. This doesn't make them "evil" but at the very least moves them to the list of people I actively avoid. Most of the time it is when I see a certain disinterestedness in thought, ideas or the general (or specific) well-being of others. It can manifest as extreme tribalism (an obsession with putting people in pre-valuated categories) or at the other end of solipsistic thinking (only I matter/exist). It could happen if the person expresses an overly simplistic or dismissive attitude towards a complex scenario, and a lack of intellectual humility. It could be a person who could never imagine anything changing their mind about anything.

If the person in question has some sort of power or authority - do they wield it towards some end that doesn't befit their post?

On a smaller scale, I think a sense of humor is something I associate with being "a good person". So, people for whom laughter seems to come easily usually have a leg up (I mean, assuming they aren't laughing at somebody's horrible suffering).

Fenring

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I just wanted to throw in parenthetically that while I *think* I understood the OP question's basic intent, which might be rephrased as "do you approve of this person or not", I've been observing for some years the use of the term "good person" with some fascination. It's one of those terms many people use but I'm not convinced that there is (a) agreement on what it means, or (b) anything that it means. This doesn't devalue the general question of how we evaluate others, but if the question is whether some person is objectively "good" or "bad" (evil?) then it would have to be based on some exterior principle and not just a question of whether you like them or not. I mention this only parenthetically because I don't mean to undermine Greg's intention, but only to assert that I hope it doesn't mean that someone failing to meet some arbitrary set of criteria is summarily categorized as a "bad person". Through Socrates, Plato suggests for instance that bad behavior and belief may be attributed to ignorance, and that therefore at worst a person could be called sick, but never bad. Religions frequently tell a different story. It's not a simple matter!

rightleft22

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Characteristics of a “good person” … I would say integrity and compassion.

Someone’s who works at being true to their thinking and actions.  Someone who when learning better tries to do better. Someone who does not fear doubt and understands the difference between acting with certainty even when uncertain – this keeps one open to learning and away from fundamentalism. Someone who’s identity is not threatened when others disagree with them or who beliefs are different and challenges them.   

TheDrake

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I would say that snide, belittling language will put off of someone quickly. Sneering, condescension, arrogance, mockery: they all serve only to make the user look worse than the person they are trying to portray as bad.

And people who decide not to tip service people (in the US).

D.W.

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I'm not always sure I'm a good person.   I tend to keep things more simple and just determine if I'd like to spend more or less time around a person.