Thesis: there is no objective right and wrong because people never agree about what is right and wrong.
Most people in the contemporary world claim to be moral relativists. They proclaim that what is right for one person may not necessary be right for another person. The interpretation of right and wrong has been a matter of debate that has really attracted the attention and interest of many philosophers. There are no objective or absolute moral principles. All moral principles are subject to one’s interpretation and are highly affected by an individual’s background as well as culture.
The way we live, the verdicts we make when other people are mistreated and our behavior reveal what we really believe about right and wrong. For instance, one might think that it was morally wrong for the Nazis to kill millions of Jews during the 2nd world war (Wallis, 78). There is a high possibility that it is an individual’s cultural conditioning that makes them think it was wrong. This shows how mistaken one might be simply because of their cultures. To others, the action was right.
Something cannot be termed to be wrong simply because everyone believes it to be wrong. To others, tormenting or killing people are quite right. They perceive the action to be justifiable homicide. However, for a believer, it will not be a brain-teaser to determine whether the act was wrong or right simple because the holy books species that no one should be subjected to undue torture. The holy books are against killing and the power to take away the life of an individual rests solely on God. For Christians, objective principles of right and wrong exist and must be based on a solid foundation which apparently is the character of the holy God. However, the contemporary society is full of diversities. Not even the holy books are holy, realistic and accepted by all. The heathens and freethinkers for instance do not perceive what the holy books classify as wrong to be wrong. Their morals are moderately different from those of no-believers and their interpretation of right and wrong diverges from the believers’ interpretation and lucidity. This indicates that there is nothing that can universally be accepted to be right or wrong. However, this subjects reasoning to self-refutation.
Determining what is just involves a comprehensive look at what an individual as well as the collective society values. Our views on war, taxes and religion can be interpreted from dissimilar angles. For instance, a question of great debate might be, do we certainly own our bodies? Yes, we own our bodies, our lives and our personalities. As such we should be free to do whatever we want with them. Amputating or selling parts our bodies such as kidneys is therefore right since we are using our bodies for what we want. However, this might be very wrong to Christians since the bible clearly states that our bodies are the temple of God. It therefore follows that we must use our bodies according to God’s will, wish and directive.
In defining right and wrong, moralists take the consequences of the action to be of great relevance (Blackburn, 231). Such consequences need to be attributed. Some people deny upon the consequences. This creates confusion with the subjective sense. When arguing whether an action is wrong or right, they always adduce the repercussions which it has or may be expected to have. If the consequences appear to be adverse, the n the actions might be termed as wrong. If the consequences are seemingly good, then the action will be considered to be right. However, the same consequences that person A may consider to be bad might be considered by person B to be good. This creates detestation. When such complications arise, they should not be settled by ensuing simple rules (Hart, 69). Although majority advocate for consideration of consequences when making a decision, they will never agree on what is right and contrary to this, they will always have diverging interpretations and consequently decisions (Wallis, 108).
According to the most fortunate act, something is right if it produces the greatest excess of good over evil and wrong if it produces excess of evil over good. The definition seems ambiguous as it is majorly based on relativism. This act may therefore be considered to be irrelevant as it is not objectively right (Hart, 192). The act is likely to be less fortunate. A good example is, some men have done so much harm to the world that it would have been healthier if nurses had killed them during embryonic stage. However, if this had been done, the deed would not have been empirically correct since it would not have the best effects (Blackburn, 169). The wisdom of an individual is another factor in shaping right and wrong. since wisdom level differs among people decisions and interpretation of right and wrong are bound to differ.
As elucidated above, people will never agree on what is wrong and right hence there will never be an objective wrong and right. The whole idea of wrong and right is relative and subject to personal interpretations.
Blackburn, Simon. Being Good: An Introduction to Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. Print.
Hart, H L. A. Law, Liberty, and Morality. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 2003. Print.
Wallis, Jim. God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005. Print.