What defines "right" and "wrong"?

55 posts

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I came across something that I found interesting. It went something like this:


There is no right or wrong, there is no good or evil.
There is only our right and thier right.
We call our right “good” and thier right “evil”.


What are your opinions on this? What do you think about how society defines right and wrong? Different societies have different definitions of right and wrong. When you look at it from a wider perspective, isn’t it all relative?

 
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somebody613 defines right and wrong.

 
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Originally posted by NaturalReject:

somebody613 defines right and wrong.

This.


And society does make up what’s right and wrong.

 
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There is no objective right and wrong. However, there certainly are rules and regulations that define right and wrong on the level of society in a way the government believes that most people would agree with it.

As a general rule of thumb:

1. Code of conduct on personal level.
2. Code of conduct within a group of people.
3. Code of conduct within a society.
4. Global code of conduct.
5. “Objective” code of conduct.

The fifth is lacking, as there is no proof this actually exists. The others all deal with a certain layer within which every person is expected to oblige. When they do not, they are usually punished in one way or another. The exception, of course, is the first layer. However, an addition is that each layer needs to obey to the layers above that (but not below!), because the layer above that is further reaching and more powerful.

So, yes, there are rights and wrongs, they just aren’t objective.

 
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Left has always been right for me and right has never been wright.

 
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Originally posted by Darkruler2005:

There is no objective right and wrong. However, there certainly are rules and regulations that define right and wrong on the level of society in a way the government believes that most people would agree with it.

True. And one of the most commonly used axioms I’ve seen is—is it safe, sane, and consensual?

But heck, even Darth Vader thought what he was doing was right (I know it’s fiction, but George Lucas liked to play around with philosophy a lot this way). It’s a matter of perspective sometimes.

 
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For me, what is right and what is wrong is just a natural concept for me

I assume this concept is being slowly constructed by demands and expetations of our culture, society, relatives, (religion), and personal view of the world

I grasp moral as personal concept. For each individual, moral is different when compared to some other individuals morale. There are many similarities but in the end, possible combinations of moral patterns are just infinite which makes me to conclude there is no clear definiton of moral (alias what is right and what is wrong), only factors which constructs it

Some similar moral patterns are far more common than others, but if there was a clear definition of moral, not everyone would be subject to it which disqualifes definition

As said, what we have now as a definition are mere guidelines how moral is constructed

There isn’t only one moral pattern everyone would be subject to

EDIT: Darkruler said it with quite snazzy way

 
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Wait, I would like to make a slight change to what I said about what makes right and wrong.

GOD!!!

 
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That is the ‘Relativist mentality’ in a nut shell- where what I believe in nothing more than pure opinion. Basically, everything you do has different values depending on the affixed context(s)- if the majority of factors “favours” you over the opposition, then you’re circumstantially “right” and, by the same dint, your opponents are “wrong”. Although this seems counterintuitive at initial insight, this is how politics operates essentially anyway. Also, as democracy hasn’t aroused any kind of global catastrophe(s) (yet), suffice the purposes to decree that the ‘Relativist approach’ has some validity to it. As Darkruler2005 said, even though there are rules of etiquette, the codes of conduct can be subtly manipulated (alternated more or less) due to the presence of changing environments.

 
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Welcome to the world of morals.

Being said that ethics and morals are in its core subjective, there’s still a lot of logic, reasoning and fields of study to it.

And ofcourse, the ever ongoing war between principal ethics and utilitarian/consequentialism.

 
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Well I find that what defines what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, depends on the situation you are in, or the perspective you have, therefore not everyone will agree with what is perceived to be ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. It’s difficult to apply a set of rules or laws or principles to define what this is, because of the way society and the world around us works, so with this we can gather it depends on what circumstances the individual or group is in, and the stance held by the person(s).

 
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Evil: creating or attempting to create personally desirable circumstances regardless or with little regard of it’s desirability to others. (not just against others’ desires, but regardless of them)
Good: creating or attempting to create circumstances primarily for the purpose of universal desirability of those circumstances.

practically, however, people never directly do either, not by intention. instead, everyone acts out of fear of fealing lesser than others, whether they do good or bad or anything else.

 
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I’m a Christian so this question is 100 times easier for me than for you.

 
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Originally posted by wercooler:

I’m a Christian so this question is 100 times easier for me than for you.

Congratulations, you have simultaneously started a moral discussion in this thread, and a religion argument, and all while sounding kind of like an arrogant prick.

 
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Originally posted by tenco1:

Congratulations, you have simultaneously started a moral discussion in this thread.

That’s what this thread is, right?

Originally posted by tenco1:

and a religion argument.

That was semi- on purpose

Originally posted by tenco1:
and all while sounding kind of like an arrogant prick.

oops.

you can ignore my posts if you think I’m derailing the thread

 
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I’m a Christian so this question is 100 times easier for me than for you.

But it is quite easy for us to disagree with your answer.

 
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Originally posted by wercooler:

I’m a Christian so this question is 100 times easier for me than for you.

I imagine your answer is along the lines of “God defines what is right and wrong.”

As an alternative question, I ask you this: Does God tell you something is right because it is, or is it right because God says it is?

To me, the former would imply that God is unnecessary for one to be moral. The latter implies morality is arbitrary.

 
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What you define as Right and Wrong depends on what you set as your moral arbitrater. For some, it is God. For others, it is instinct. For yet others, it is society. It all depends on what or whom you set as your standard for ‘right’ and ’wrong.

Naturally, people will disagree on what is right and wrong. Why is this? Because they use different arbitraters, that have different standards and laws. And, as of such, people will continue to classify others as right or wrong, and, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Allowing people to disagree on what is right and wrong causes alot of thinking to happen, which, most everyone would agree is “right” aka “a good thing” (alas, not everybody in the world will agree, showing my point).

I really don’t like using ‘objectively’ right and wrong, generally because the word ‘objective’ is something that isn’t very clear, and is often misused. Objectivity may have different meaning in different phrases, as well. I also don’t like using ‘relatively’ right and wrong, because it gives the sense that you won’t be accountable for your actions, which, obviously you are, by the different sets of laws and governing pertaining to you (this may include God, and definitely includes society and likely government). So I just tend to like to leave it as it is, rather than worry about all the objective-relative terminology. I just try to leave it with a nice and simple statement (I hope): People sometimes disagree about what is right, and what is wrong.

 
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Really, morality is instinctual?

Never knew, thanks for enlightening me.

 
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Originally posted by Senakus:

Really, morality is instinctual?

Never knew, thanks for enlightening me.

My troll sense is starting to tingle.

He said for some it’s instinctual, he never said how many or why.

 
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Yeah, tenco has it right.

Besides, in terms of nature v. nurture, chances are it probably includes a bit of both for nearly everything ;-).

I’m not too worried about it in any case. I was more talking about what people founded their views on morality/ethics (aka right and wrong) upon. We all generally base it upon something. In terms of instinct, I generally meant ‘personal feelings that tend to be more isolated from society’. We all have those to some degree, I think. There’s no precise perfect reason, I guess XD.

 
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I really don’t like using ‘objectively’ right and wrong, generally because the word ‘objective’ is something that isn’t very clear, and is often misused. Objectivity may have different meaning in different phrases, as well. I also don’t like using ‘relatively’ right and wrong, because it gives the sense that you won’t be accountable for your actions, which, obviously you are, by the different sets of laws and governing pertaining to you (this may include God, and definitely includes society and likely government). So I just tend to like to leave it as it is, rather than worry about all the objective-relative terminology.

It certainly cannot be objective, because that means there is no dispute over right and wrong, it is proven to be one way, and scientists have made a whole theory about it. I’m not sure what you mean by “relatively” here, but it is subjective in the sense that every person and every group can have a different view. You are accountable since, as I mentioned in my above post, every code of conduct is inferior to the one above it.

 
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Originally posted by Darkruler2005:

I really don’t like using ‘objectively’ right and wrong, generally because the word ‘objective’ is something that isn’t very clear, and is often misused. Objectivity may have different meaning in different phrases, as well. I also don’t like using ‘relatively’ right and wrong, because it gives the sense that you won’t be accountable for your actions, which, obviously you are, by the different sets of laws and governing pertaining to you (this may include God, and definitely includes society and likely government). So I just tend to like to leave it as it is, rather than worry about all the objective-relative terminology.

It certainly cannot be objective, because that means there is no dispute over right and wrong, it is proven to be one way, and scientists have made a whole theory about it. I’m not sure what you mean by “relatively” here, but it is subjective in the sense that every person and every group can have a different view. You are accountable since, as I mentioned in my above post, every code of conduct is inferior to the one above it.

That isn’t the way people always use objective though XD.

What I meant about relative was that there is a philosophy called ‘relative morality’ which specifies that everyone is right, and nobody is wrong, and that I didn’t think that philosophy was correct – rather than we all had our own ideas about right and wrong… and whether it was ultimately ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is something that depends on alot more things than that.

As of your code of conducts, I’m not sure it is so simple… I think we can compromise any level except the first, depending on our values. Different people will subject themselves to different codes. Certain codes only apply themselves on anybody except who is willing. Other codes of conduct apply themselves on everyone they effect. Most, are naturally somewhere in between. Naturally, we will ‘like’ certain codes of conduct better than others, and so we will be dedicated more fully to one or another, depending on our feelings. Still, cool =).

 
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The unwilling prove the codes of conduct are in effect. Especially in a country you have prison waiting for you if you do not follow the code. If you do not follow it within your group of friends, you may be kicked out. They work, because there is power to support it.

 
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We do. I think the bigger question here is: How can you tell that you are correct about what is right? Morality is a moral dilemma.

I’d have to reiterate what Sam Harris has said on this topic; The separation between science and human values is a dangerous illusion. Values are facts about the well being of conscious creatures. We are compassionate about animals more than rocks, because we make the scientific assumption that animals have a higher capacity for suffering and happiness.

In light of this, there are right and wrong answers regarding the acts and practices of different cultures and peoples. He (and I) believe that human flourishing can be viewed in a scientific way, and as a result, knowledge on the subject, and ignorance of the subject, is valuable. Just as there are specialists in areas of science, there can be specialists in the subject of morality. I believe that the further we investigate what it is to be happy, we will find quantifiable results that will force us into a scientific moral system.

And an emotional appeal quote: “Who are we to say that the proud denizens of an ancient culture are wrong to force their wives and daughters to live in cloth bags. Who are we to say even that they are wrong to beat them with ranks of steel cable, and throw battery acid in their faces if they refuse the privilege of being smothered in this way. Who are we not to say this. Who are we to pretend that we know so little about human well being that we have to be non-judgemental about a practice like this.”

The judgement of moral behaviour is completely different, and is a question of determinism & compatibalism.