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Is There Right and Wrong?

The question of whether right and wrong exist is a philosophical question which requires logical thought. Many people who state that they are skeptics or subjectivists will never doubt that right and wrong exist. They try to avoid categorizing things into right and wrong. Skeptics state that it is impossible to learn the truth, while subjectivists can create their own truth. Steve Wilkens argues that these people “just do not include as many things (or the same things) in the ‘wrong’ category as others” (14). For example, these people will never agree with the widespread traditional beliefs about homosexuality and heterosexuality. On the contrary, these people will become morally offended, if they are asked to support the statement that “people should not be free to make decisions about their personal sexual activity” (Wilkens 14). This fact does not mean that there is no moral truth, but there is a so-called disagreement about what can be called “the truth”. Right and wrong is something important for all human beings and associated with what we call “the truth”. In fact, there is no right and wrong because people never agree what is right or wrong.

The terms “right” and “wrong” are often used in moral judgments. When people agree on something, they would say it is right, while when they disagree – they would say it is wrong. However, when a problem (or an issue) is unresolvable disagreement, there is no right answer to a problem.  Bernard Gert Stone, the Professor of Intellectual and Moral Philosophy, states in his book Morality: Its Nature and Justification that “the lack of agreement on a right answer is completely compatible with complete agreement that almost all of the proposed answers are wrong” (324). This fact means that the lack of agreement on a right answer is completely compatible with objectivity. However, disagreement on whether the answer is right may be caused by improper knowledge on how to solve the problem (the lack of the appropriate facts, or relevant techniques).  Let’s take, for example, the debate on abortion. Some people would agree that abortion should be legalized, while others oppose legalization of abortion. Who is right and who is wrong? James DiGiacomo states that “the people in the pro-life movement are trying to impose their morality on those who disagree with them” (58). Moral relativism says that “there is nothing right or wrong in itself and that morality is all in the eye of the beholder” (DiGiacomo 58). This fact means that people cannot tell other people that they are right or wrong in what they are doing. Undoubtedly, it is not related to crimes, such as murder or robbery, because there are certain laws against criminality. These laws prove that the behavior of individuals involved in criminal activity is wrong.

Moreover, many people would agree that there is no right and wrong because there are no absolutes. What some people decide is “right” may be considered as “wrong” for another people, or what one society considered as “right” may be “wrong” for another society. For example, in some society, prostitution is legal, while in another society it is forbidden. In Poland, Canada, Netherlands and Germany prostitution is legalized, while in Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Iceland, and Norway prostitution is illegal. The same can be said about abortion. In Ireland, Malta, and Poland abortion is prohibited by law, and only allowed under certain circumstances.

Besides, there is no right and wrong because people never agree what is right or wrong. In some situations, people fail to find difference between these concepts. In other words, it is very difficult for people to decide what is really right or wrong in this or that situation. As a rule, these situations are associated with moral issues. Those people who do not know what is right and wrong have their own philosophical thought which is not supported by laws, religious principles and by the Bible. For example, many people cannot agree that prejudice and racism are wrong. They continue to demonstrate their prejudice towards the people of other races in various situations. They do not try to find out what is wrong in their behavior. Undoubtedly, these people follow their own principles, their own philosophy.

However, there are some arguments that oppose the statement that there is no right and wrong because people never agree what is right or wrong. These arguments state that there is right and wrong because people would agree what is right or wrong. The first argument is based on biblical response. Jerry Stokes states “the sense that there is a distinction between right and wrong is universal” (201).  Religion can help to explain what is wrong and evil. People cannot deny the existence of evil and wrong, as well as the existence of right and goodness because of the existence of 10 universal religious principles (the Ten Commandments). People cannot deny the Bible which condemns wrong actions. This fact means it is illogical to believe there is no concrete difference between right and wrong. The Bible and Christian teachings state that there is right and wrong, good and evil. God is the source of good and right. The second principle is based on the established laws, rules and regulations. There is right and wrong. Wrong actions are punishable. Right actions are honorable.

Actually, these arguments may not be enough to persuade some people. First of all, some people believe that good and evil are universal terms which have no difference between their meanings. According to Jerry Stokes, “for the New Agers, there is no such thing as evil” (201). Undoubtedly, some of these arguments may seem illogical and even inhuman. For example, some people even “deny the fact that Hitler’s actions were evil” (Stokes 201). Their belief is based on the notions that there is no right and wrong in the universe, and that “a thing is not intrinsically right or wrong, a thing is simply is” (Stokes 201).

Conclusion

           Thus, it is necessary to conclude that there is no right and wrong because these concepts are universal, and it is very difficult for people to agree what is right or wrong. In many cultures, people cannot find difference between these values, as they do not follow the Bible. The Ten Commandments help people to differentiate what is right and what is wrong. Undoubtedly, if there is no right and wrong, there are no ethical principles, moral values and religious concepts that discover the nature of right and wrong. If there is no right and wrong, people can do what they want, without any restrictions in their behaviors. If there is no right and wrong, there are no laws which should be followed by all people.

 

Works Cited

           DiGiacomo, James. Do the Right Thing: A Guide to Christian Morality. Rowman & Littlefield, 1991. Print.

Stokes, Jerry. Changing World Religions, Cults & Occult. Jerry Stokes, 2007. Print.

Stone, Bernard Gert. Morality : Its Nature and Justification.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.

Wilkens, Steve. Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong. InterVarsity Press, 2011. Print.