What ever happened to right and wrong?

this is vastly broad but i would like opinions. define right and wrong as you see fit. i personally like the statement "there is black, there is white, there is wrong and there is right. one thing i have noticed from reading this board is that many things tend to go gray *as in there is no black and white to anything. im just wondering is there right and wrong without going gray?

Not past the age of five.

This is like the last Tyson fight. A one-punch knockout.

Nomadic_One, would you mind telling us how you developed your black-and-white standards of right and wrong? This way we would know where you are coming from.

I would guess that this may be in reference to this:


May I take this opportunity to humbly ask if Czarcasm could have a look at the note to mods in this thread, as I fear it will be buried deep in the pit, and die a lonely death, unloved and pennyless. Many thanks. :slight_smile:

If it is politically correct it is right, if not it is wrong

[ul]:rolleyes: [sup]Sheesh! I thought everybody knew that![/sup][/ul]

I read that thread, and that’s why I’m curious if the OP is related to it, and if so shouldn’t the question be “Why do you not believe in what I believe, and why?”

Utilitarianishly, I say: An action is wrong/right if it increases/decreses the amount of suffering in the universe over the entire lifetime of the universe.

Since we cannot know all the future consequences of any action, every action has at least a tiny shade of grey.

All we can do is make a best guess.

What did happen to right and wrong?

I dunno… I think everything started to get complicated when God died.

It’s all in the intent. The ol’ Ten Commandments have stuck around because they’re so easy to remember, and they’re a good shorthand list of things that, back when they were written, were the big issues.

But these days, most of the good/bad things we do aren’t covered by the basics. Let’s look at gardening.

I own a house. If I plant trees with the intent of beautifying my house, providing shade to my kids, etc, it’s a good act. Now, if I plant the exact same trees with the intent of blocking the view of my jerkwad neighbor, well, that’s a bad act.

Good and bad are social constructs, intended as a way of teaching the young and ordering the behaviour of the old. Static laws (religious or secular, it’s all the same) are very poor at handling this kind of subtlety.

Which is why I have no patience for religious fundamentalism or authoritarian governments.

Perhaps it would help if you could provide a couple of examples of objectively right and wrong things for us to look at.

Well, there are a number of standards that people have used to define “objective” right and wrong. I hesitate to attempt to define the secular humanist one, shared by much of this board (and I hasten to state that I use the term “secular humanist” denotatively rather than with the spin that Evangelicals often put on it – folks who do not accept a moral code of divine origin but who do see a moral code founded in how man treats man). Would some non-theist care to essay such a definition?

That out of the way, there are three main systems often referenced on this board:

  1. The Rede, summarized in “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” (It’s actually a much more thoroughgoing and nuanced code than that, but a person who holds to it should discuss it, not me.)

  2. The Bible is the guide to ethical behavior, especially as interpreted by _____. (The latter clause gets the inconvenient stuff about cotton-linen blend fabrics and kosher food out of the way, while still enabling it to serve as a guide to “moral behavior.”)

  3. Jesus taught that the law for human behavior was “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and mind and soul and strength, and thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Amplified by strictures against judgmentalism and examples from the parables he told, especially the one regarding the sheep and goats, this serves as a basic code. (Note that this does not base itself on the Bible as a lawbook but on a particular fundamental code and guide to applying it, derived from part of the Bible to be sure, but not enshrining the Bible as the guide to right and wrong.)

The problem, as always, lies in interpretation, and in balancing things good in themselves against other things. Not to hijack this into an abortion discussion, but I think everyone would agree that the statement, “It is wrong to force a woman to do something to do something with her body that she prefers not to do,” is an acceptable rule. But if one regards the fetus within her as a separate person with human rights, as most pro-life people do, its right to life conflicts with her right to manage her body. Over on the gay teens thread, Crafter Man mentioned his right to bring up his children with the moral teaching that homosexuality is wrong and sinful. No doubt he has that right, but the result is two little girls who will become women who believe that they therefore have the god-given right to ostracize, condemn, and remove human rights from gay people. See how complex it gets?

*i will respond later…drat my scholastic studies… :slight_smile: *

Black-and-white morality is wrong.

It all depends on your perspective as to exactly what you think right and wrong are.

But, there is no such thing, anywhere in the world, as a clear distinction between anything. Shift perspectives, and it all dissolves into a probability soup.

The trouble is, most people have a fairly active and distinct set of boundaries as to what is “right” or “wrong” from their point of view, but it is very nearly impossible to apply them consistently across a population. Thus, conflicts of interest, and “grey areas”.

Since we are searching for an apparently misplaced sense of Right and Wrong, could someone describe the missing abductee. Sort of a side of the milkbox type thing. It can be a missing Right or Wrong. Either is acceptable.

What was at one time considered Right or Wrong at one time that is no longer considered so, and why is humanity in a worse condition because of the loss?

My opinion?

RIGHT = what God prefers that you do in a particular instance.

WRONG = what God permits you to do in a particular instance, but prefers that you do otherwise.

But it seems that God refrains from telling one which is which at the crucial moment. So we are left to make our own decision.

Because of God’s reticence, and because of mortal fallibility, it is my opinion that a dogmatic “black-and-white-ism” is gravely counterproductive, in that it gets in the way of such guidance as an informed conscience might provide in the heat of the moment.

Yet in a purely logical sense, I suspect there may well be a definite right or wrong in nearly every case in which we are struck by the possibility that some moral issue is at hand. (But–I think the great majority of human actions and decisions lack any significant inherent moral implications. God really doesn’t care whether you get out of bed on one side or the other…)

I think that “absolute right” and “absolute wrong” exist, even if they’re hard to find in real life. It’s kinda like “absolute red” and “absolute blue”. There’s some color out there that is “true red”. It exists as an abstract, and theoretically exists as a real color, but most things in the world are different, even if only subtly, from that ideal.

I see good and evil in the same light. Some things are absolutely evil. Walking up to an old person and stabbing them just because it’s fun is an evil act. Pulling over to the side of the road to help someone with a flat tire is a good act. However, as soon as you add qualifiers to these situations, they get tinted gray. Killing an old person because it’s fun is evil, but killing an old person so you can take his money and give it to your mom is slightly less so. Killing an old person because he’s an awful person who harms others is less evil still, and killing an old person in self defense isn’t really evil at all.

Basically, right and wrong as absolutes are out there, but the world is a complicated place, and it’s usually not possible to label things with such certainty.

Polycarp: Oh please. Do you really think I go around “ostracizing and condemning” people? :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Yes, I believe homosexuals - based on their choice of behavior – are sinners. But guess what? I am also a sinner. It would thus be quite hypocritical of me to “ostracize and condemn” other sinners, would it not? Which is why I try my best not to do it.

The bottom line is this: We teach our children that certain behaviors and actions are immoral and sinful. This is for their own individual and internal benefit and guidance. We do not teach them they are “superior” to people who have chosen to practice immoral behaviors (that they themselves would not choose). We teach them to focus on their own moral shortcomings.

To me, any act which deliberately harms another person, whether it be financially, physically, or simply just hurting their feelings is wrong.

I believe it is wrong to cause any creature more suffering than is absolutely necessary. (For example, I have no problem with eating an animal, but it should be killed humanely.)

An act which is “right” is one which is kind, generous, or helpful to another person without any ulterior motive, or harming another person to do it.