Open Question: What is Right and Wrong?

two-paths
When it comes to what’s right and what’s wrong, everyone has an opinion. And “opinion” might be an understatement — many people’s views on morality are held with the devotion of religious or political beliefs. To those with strict views on right and wrong, good and bad, there are just some things you don’t say or do.

My view on right and wrong is that there is no true right or wrong. Instead, what is good or bad, right or wrong, correct or incorrect, is subjective and changes with the context. For example, most would consider killing to be wrong, but what if someone were attempting to kill you or a loved one? Would killing in this context be justified, or just as wrong as in any other? Stealing is another very variable “wrong” — would stealing be less bad if you had no money and were taking food to feed your three hungry little children? On the other hand, is it always “good” to defend a loved one, even when you hurt others in the process?

But what is most interesting about morality is that often what is right to some is what fulfills their personal bias. What they like and how and who they are is right, and what differs from them is wrong. And what benefits them is good, what disadvantages them is bad. In this way, what is right and wrong becomes less about kindness and respect and more about judgment and ego.

Is this to say that I think morality is unnecessary and does more harm than good? No, judgment and criticism are a part of humanity, and quite necessary at times. However, I think that more could stand to examine their views on right and wrong, what purpose they serve, and why they hold them.

What do you consider right and wrong? Do you have strict views or do they change with context?

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8 thoughts on “Open Question: What is Right and Wrong?

  1. I have firm guidelines about right and wrong. I also believe these concepts are pretty clear and universal. In my experiences, the self serving to bend them for their purposes, but that does not invalidate the basic premises. At least not for me…

  2. This is a very complex subject. Personally, I have strict views and sometimes depends on the situation, and these views can sometimes be changed with context.

    Everyone has morals and/ or values that guides them, I believe that’s where we decide what is good or bad….and of course with that said, our conscience plays an important role.

    In my own experience, I’ve discovered that there are things that I never tolerated when I was younger but now I’ve grown to be flexible or I’ve learnt to accept.

    I can’t think of any examples right now….

  3. Everyone has their own definition. Personally, I believe that as long as something makes people happy and fulfilled, ( but not at the expense of others) it’s right. If something hurts people, it’s wrong. However this is not strict. I judge every situation according to its context.

  4. Sherry,

    “I have firm guidelines about right and wrong. I also believe these concepts are pretty clear and universal.”

    Hmmm, one would assume so, but there are always people who disagree with a lot of concepts of right and wrong that are thought to be universal. And/or see them as context-dependent.

    What are some of your views on right and wrong?


    mkhululie,

    “Personally, I have strict views and sometimes depends on the situation, and these views can sometimes be changed with context.”

    Well, that’s a very clear answer, I have to say. 😀

    “I’ve discovered that there are things that I never tolerated when I was younger but now I’ve grown to be flexible or I’ve learnt to accept. “

    Same. Though I wonder if it’s just apathy taking over at this point.

  5. Hi Ellen,

    “Personally, I believe that as long as something makes people happy and fulfilled, ( but not at the expense of others) it’s right. If something hurts people, it’s wrong.”

    That’s essentially my definition of right and wrong, so high five! Even if I fail at it sometimes, I strongly believe in the second aspect — not hurting people. It’s easy to forget about the other person in our personal quests for happiness.

  6. It’s down to someone’s individual morals. Sometimes, these morals are collective ones (withing a culture), but there don’t seem to be universally accepted rights and wrongs. They vary from culture to culture.

    I am a cultural relativist, which means I’m doing my best not to judge others with morals of my culture, or my own morals. But it’s impossible. So even if I know certain things are relative, I do have my moral code and I do judge things based on them.

  7. While on the subject…..I always get confused when people make the statement….”I don’t judge”
    I believe that is not true and impossible to some degree, maybe sometimes we do it unintentionally or out of shock

    I mean, we tend to judge other because they are different than us or they believe in different things……….

    I would say that we try not to judge

  8. mkhululie,

    While on the subject…..I always get confused when people make the statement….”I don’t judge”

    I think they usually mean “I don’t judge a lot“. Clearly everyone judges, or it would be impossible to make decisions. But I guess what they mean is that they don’t rush to judgment.

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