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Debate Score:9
Total Votes:9
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"Right" and "Wrong" is morality relative

I have been thinking a lot about sociopaths and the criminally insane lately which branched off into me considering is what their doing wrong? (i.e. murdering, raping, lying) or is it only wrong to those who believe it is? For instance, someone could think it is wrong to cheat on a test, or even another person because, let's say they use the money they receive to take that class to support themselves and their grades are slipping, if they do not pass this class, they're out of those funds, and therefore out on the street with no alternate means to support them self. Does that make them any more or less wrong than someone who kills for pleasure? People do things out of self interest, basically they do what they do because they want to and can some way justify it to themselves, and sometimes even to others. It's like saying eating meat is wrong. It is all a matter of opinion, an individuals' point of view.



Side Score: 4


Side Score: 5
1 point

I don't think there's such a thing as an 'absolute' right or wrong, but clearly we've evolved a conscience, and a sense of right and wrong, and in understanding the reason behind that, I think we can try to understand what constitute a 'right' action, and what constitutes a 'wrong' action.

I think the most probable cause for us developing a sense of right and wrong is because it allowed multiple people to live together without having to worry about that other people in our group would act to harm us. So, the first order of morality would be to:

1: Don't harm others in your group.

We also need to know that others in the group aren't taking advantage of us, and that everyone is contributing as much as they can, so the second order of morality would be:

2: Pull your own weight.

A third problem with living in a group is trying to figure out how to coordinate everyone's activities so that stuff gets done most efficiently. For example, who's going to hunt vs. who's going to gather. If everyone just took off and started hunting, then you'd all get back to camp and there wouldn't be any salad to go with your steak, so the third order of morality would be to:

3: Play your role in society

Of course, some people would consider that very boring, and that sense of boredom is something that we've evolved, so there must be a reason for that. I think there are several reasons for that. First, if everyone just blindly plays their role without thinking about it, your society won't see opportunities when they present themselves, and another society that does see these opportunities will out-compete your society. Second, things change, the environment you live in can get drier over time, or wetter, or become more populated, etc., so you need to be able to adapt. Therefore, the fourth order of morality would be:

4: Don't be a goody goody

All of this, of course, needs to be balanced against the older 'morality' that was evolved before we started living in groups, and that is to take care of oneself and insure one's own survival. Everyone strikes a different balance between looking out for themselves and being a good citizen. I think evolution plays a role here as well.

There may be some genetic influence here, but I think environment plays a bigger factor. First of all, your not going to play the good citizen if you live in a society in which everyone else looks after themselves. You need to know that the good deeds you do for others will be reciprocated. Second, when there's a lot of resources to go around, I think people worry less about being a good citizen, and just try to improve their own lot relative to everyone else. When resources are scarce, I think that's when you see people pull together to help each other.

Unfortunately, this is also the time when people tend to break up into different groups to compete for those resources. There aren't enough resources for everyone, so you try to join the biggest group you can that the resources will be enough for, and you pit yourself against other groups to deny them access to the resources.

This is all just scratching the surface of this topic. I think whole books could be written on this topic. Actually, whole books have been written on this topic for millennia, although I think fewer of them have taken an evolutionary perspective on solving the problem. I'm not an expert here, but I think Machiavelli was the first to take the approach that whatever works is right, and that's close to this, because whatever works is what will help our society stay strong and survive.

Side: Ye
1 point

yes totally agree its our morality our mentality and according to that we conclude something to be right or wrong.For some one what may be wrong can be be absolute right for other.its our way of thinking our view and our ideas what we have adopted from the society...

Side: Ye

Evil is that which increases suffering. For instance the pope don't believe birth control which leads to poor kids and orphans. The pope increases suffering so he s evil

Side: Ye
artifact1122(8) Disputed
1 point

Hahaha, if only it were that simple. What if one of the children he kept from being aborted became a second Hawking and brought great prosperity and joy to many others? The world is super complex like that.

Side: Nay

Good is that which decreases suffering. If someone has incurable disease then speeding their death could be good to stop prolong suffering.

Side: Ye
artifact1122(8) Disputed
1 point

Then an absolute morality with "do no harm" at it's centre may in fact be beneficial to humanity, shall we make it official right now and live by it? XD We could make a new Hippocratic cult!!!

Side: Nay
2 points

Interesting points for moral relativism. At its base, it is true: we all have our own individual sense of morality (some of us have none) that is different from anyone else's. That much has to be true, in a way, as we are not telepathic beings that can perfectly understand each other hand develop he exact same moral principles. This view, though, takes morality from the point of view of the individual, yet morality itself works so that we may work together as a group to survive.

I think it's important to remember that there is a difference between morality, societal view, personal opinion, ethics, and the will to survive:

1. Morality is commonly defined as right and wrong. What constitutes right and wrong? Usually a combination of all the other listed factors, but also whether an action causes harm to another or is beneficial. By that logic, right and wrong are fairly clear, no? If what you do hurts others, it is wrong, and if what you do helps others, it is right. However, this gets a bit difficult when you take into account that every situation has its own factors.

2. When we hear about someone who is promiscuous, self-serving, or takes a certain view on something, we often call them wrong. We often don't realize that many of the things we criticize are nor right nor wrong; we just look down upon them as a society. That's a matter of collective opinion.

3. Personal opinion also takes into account one's own experiences and their emotions, as well as what kind of logic they're using to make their arguments. That's often why morality as based in the individual can make for some pretty difficult situations if that one person is the one deciding what is right or wrong.

4. Ethics is often the most confused with morality. Ethics is not about right or wrong, exactly, but about fairness, which is related to morality. However, if one person has a morsel of food but not enough to share with a starving friend, it might be an unfair action to eat the food, but arguably not wrong as one person needs to survive (if both are equals then it does not matter who), and to not eat at all for the sake of fairness just means that two people die of starvation.

5. We all pretty much understand that if we must take drastic action in order to survive, it's excusable, as at the end of the day we are all animals fighting for survival. Morality doesn't apply in a state of nature, as Thomas Hobbes would say.

All of these factors in combination do influence what we say is morally correct or not, and of course with each culture and subculture that may vary. But why, then, do we have a common sense of morality? Evolution is a good start, but doesn't explain more complex moral situations that we may find ourselves in nowadays.

I invite you to look at it this way: to decide whether something is right or wrong, imagine if everyone in the entire world did it all the time along with you. What sort of a world would that be? If the answer is unclear, then the action itself may be defined based on the conditions of the situation. Otherwise, the answer should be pretty easy. In other words, imagine if the Golden Rule came true worldwide, and everyone treated each other as you just treated someone.

I believe that's a Kantian view of morality...

In other words, morality is relative so far as popular sentiment and individual variance go, but the matter of whether there is a way to figure out an objective morality is at the very least debatable, if not somewhat true. We just need to focus less on ideology and emotion and a bit more on pragmatism and rationality.

Side: Nay
1 point

It is interesting that everyone is debating right and wrong without a strict definition of either. Does right and wrong actually exist? As Christianity seems to be the focus of prudish vigilance, I would like to quote the bible: "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial." 1Corinthians vs 6. Here we have an incredibly pragmatic view on the cans and cannots. "You're allowed to do everything. But if you choose with your free will to continue harming yourself physically, emotionally, as a person, then you're a serious piece of work. Note, the bible includes ways to heal oneself and to negate emotional harm so this isn't some "I tell you, you do it" shit. Instead of whether right and wrong are relative, I would like to propose that the idea of right and wrong itself is incredibly narrow. The world is more complex and beautiful than that, otherwise I would look down on it.

Side: Nay