at first when I saw the title of your post, I was confused, as I thought you were talking about doing something good that also has a bad effect and the whole doctrine of “double effect” which I would not have been expert enough to explain.
But I realized you are talking about something different… you are talking about doing good deeds that really have only good effects (ok, one might argue that everything has so many different effects that we can’t say that, but you know what I mean).
So, for example, somebody asks you for help and promises you a material reward for it, and you do it for the material reward and not for the sake of helping itself…
(Hm, just thinking now, does this not often get so mixed togehter that mostly we do it for both reasons?)
Ok, now some considerations and thoughts I have/had on the topic:
Let’s take a social worker who helps people in difficult situations for a living,t hat is, gets a salary for it. Does that make his/her helping bad?
Of course, ideally the social worker would also do it from the heart, love helping people - that is why/he she chose that job. But he (I mean he/she but don’t want to write both every time) is also getting paid for it. And if he didn’t get paid, he would have to get another job, because he has to live from something too. Again, it gets all mixed up.
I don’t think the social worker does something bad because he is also getting paid for it.
maybe it can be seen more on a scale of GOOD and BETTER than on a scale of bad and good?
That is, doing something for a reward might be LESS good than doing it only out of love, but that doesn’t make it bad.
It depends on the situation though.
Let’s look at a hypothetical example:
Your old neighbor lady is asking you for help carrying up her heavy groceries to her oaprtment on the 5th floor.
Now there are some possible variants:
- you immediately do it out of love, without thinking about getting a reward, glad to help:
- You know that she will probably give you something for it (some money, chocolate, whatever), and you gladly do it ALSO looking forward to that reward: I don’t think that would be bad, just maybe not quite as noble as number one
- you say to her: “Only if I get paid for it.” Now THAT I would think would be rather rude and morally not very good. But again, it depends on the situation. If you jokingly say to her (if you knwo her well): Will I get some candy for it again? and do it no matter what she says, then I wouldn’t really call that bad.
Or if you yourself have a really bad back, for example, but at the same time a financially very very bad situation and are starving, and you say to her: “Dear lady, I really shouldn’t, it might make my back worse, but if you would be so kind and help me also in excahnge with some food as I am starving and out of money, I would try hoping that the food will also strengthen me again afterward.”
And there is also an exampe where it would be NOT good even though you don’t do it for money:
4. you grab her gorceries, mumble something about how stupid you think she is that she lives on the fifth floor and that it is really for the last time, “here you go and just know that it will probably hurt my back!” and then leave her there… (I think that would be even ruder than asking for a reward.
Hope this helped.
Just my humble thoughts.