Social Question

Hibernate's avatar

Do we all have the right of judgment of what is right and what is wrong?

Asked by Hibernate (9019 points ) October 9th, 2011

There are times when people make different judgments than the ones you have. Does that make them evil or wrong?

For instance in the 12th century someone could get their head cut off if they were to steal a load of bread.

Discuss.

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30 Answers

thorninmud's avatar

A judgment of right and wrong is a thought. Conceiving of someone as “good” or “evil” is also a thought. Everyone has a right to their own thoughts.

It’s when one’s judgments leak from the realm of thought out into the world of action, where they have a real impact on real people, that one runs the risk of trampling on the rights of others. We don’t have a right to do that.

dreamwolf's avatar

For me it always goes back to if one is causing pain emotionally and physically to another and controls another in a manipulative way for their own benefit then it is evil in my feeling.

Londongirl's avatar

It is where you put the line between right and wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

Right? There are no rights granted by nature. Rights can only be granted by societies. If we are in a society that allows us all to form opinions of right and wrong, we have the right to form an opinion. However, in no democratic nation can one person decide what is right or wrong and impose that on anyone else. Right and wrong are determined by a complicated process including legislative processes, voting and consensus.

There are, of course, nations where one person can decide right and wrong for another. These are known as dictatorships or monarchies or other forms of government where one person is given these powers over others, usually by force of arms.

No one can get inside our heads, so in there, anyone can judge others. But to enforce the judgment, you need power.

The question is about what happens when a person has a different judgment than another. Does the other person become evil or wrong? That is purely a matter of the judge’s personality. I will, in some cases, believe that a person who thinks differently from me is evil. I do that when it seems like they are deliberately holding a harmful point of view, either knowing it will cause harm, or deliberately remaining ignorant of the harm it causes.

If a person is truly ignorant of the harm they cause, then I won’t think of them as evil. If it is an issue of some debate, and it is not clear if I am as right as I think I am, then I will not think someone who disagrees with me is evil. It gets tricky when I know someone knows enough to understand the harm of their point of view, and yet they still don’t see it. At this point, the issue becomes how great a harm will they cause. If the harm is great enough, then they are evil, even if the issue is somewhat murky. Or not. Depending on how I feel that day.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

For ourselves yes… For anyone else no.

SOmeone told me this a very long time ago and I have always opted to believe in it, although that being said it is difficult in practice.

“It is none of your business what I think of you, and it is none of my business what you think of me.”

If people at least tried to uphold this as a model for right action cause and effect, the world might be a very different place.

Londongirl's avatar

I don’t see anyone has different opinions from me is evil at all. But I do hate people impose their ideas on me and try to put me down by bigging themselves.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Londongirl But that being said… We all do this, Right? Is it “Bigging themselves” or is it defence for being made small with intent that isn’t always made available in the knowledge or event of it.

People can be very misleading with their own intentions especially… Mostly we still are aware of those intentions, but the right to feeling comes in at the confession. When people do not offer one another their rights to understanding exactly why by interaction with a person it somehow strangely feels more like getting run over as opposed to sharing an experience…

Not saying it, not admitting it is no compensation to the fact that those feelings will surface as defense regardless. And then because the event is lacking, the defense will look like someone attacking without good reason.

Mostly there is always a reason because more than half of what we experience is subconscience… regardless as to whether or no it is acknowledged.

Intent is inherently known, even and especially when it is not acknowledged for manipulative reasons.

Londongirl's avatar

@GabrielsLamb If I agree and see the points of someone making and if they are right, I don’t need to defence or feel ‘small’ about it, but when people try to intimidate or patronize others then I won’t hesitate to stand up for myself. When someone enlightens me, I thank them and glad to see things outside my box.

Coloma's avatar

Spiritually speaking there is no right or worng, only lessons and consequences.
Psychologically speaking, anything that causes harm to self or others could be considered “wrong.”
Societally/culturally speaking, any unlawful/illegal acts are considered “wrong” by the powers that be in that particular society/culture.

“Personally” speaking, I don’t care what anyone does as long as it is not effecting me and/or abusive or dishonest in my personal relationships.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Londongirl I agree… I would stand up for you too… *Smiles.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Coloma You are always right! I’ve never once observed you in a state of error.

Coloma's avatar

@GabrielsLamb

Oooh…flattery will get you everywhere woman! lol
Better go self flaggelate to unpuff my ego haha

YARNLADY's avatar

People must develop a sense of good judgement in order to survive.

GabrielsLamb's avatar

@Coloma Please don’t on my account… I happen to enjoy your feather preening!

Inflate away! I find it best when people are happy being who and what they are!

fundevogel's avatar

This reminds me of Keith Lowell Jensen’s bit about Bahai.

Blackberry's avatar

Some would say whether categorical imperative or golden rule, as long as you make judgments that don’t hurt people you’ll be good. But that’s not the kind of society we live in, so it’s all subjective and depends on a lot of factors.

filmfann's avatar

“Judge not, lest ye be judged”

I wonder if I should use that to get out of jury duty next week.

Nullo's avatar

Nope; the standards for right and wrong I leave to God. Now, if someone puts themselves into one of those categories…

@filmfann If you look at the context, that verse is an exhortation to the early church not to draw negative attention to itself, not a judicial MO.

saint's avatar

Right and wrong are descriptions, like large and small. They require a standard (as do large and small) to measure against. If the standard is objective (and an objective standard does indeed exist) then it is immoral not to render judgement

Symbeline's avatar

Whether we have a right or not, we do it, and who’s there to stop us, besides that which might easily grind us to dust?

Nothing confirms, so we don’t know, and we just go, as such it is so.

Sorry, sorrow, whateva yo!

…should prolly hit the sack.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

No human can determine good or evil. From a human perspective, what is good or evil, is just majority mob rule. If I can get people the majority of people to agree that not changing your socks daily or not wearing sock is evil, then it is. Those who are not wearing socks would be open for discrimination, ridicule, ostracized, etc. If I also had more men, and arms I could enforce the group standard (us good people) upon those who didn’t think as we did (those evil people).

wundayatta's avatar

@saint How do you derive an objective standard of right and wrong?

saint's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central
Mob rule is what happens when an objective moral standard is abandoned or ignored

fundevogel's avatar

@wundayatta If ethics are based on the observable quality of the world we live in, and good is defined as that which increases well-being and bad is that which lessens well-being its quite easy to objectively establish right and wrong. Or at least sort which choices are better according to their expected impact on well-being.

I really can’t fathom how people can discuss ethics or morality and claim there is some other way to define what is right or wrong. At best people can disagree about how to best promote well-being. But I don’t see how you can divorce ethics from basic well-being.

Sam Harris has a good lecture on it.

wundayatta's avatar

@fundevogel How is that different from “the greatest good for the greatest number?”

Also, what happens when there are competing points of view about what increases well-being, such as there is now in the US government? Even on the individual level, it often seems to me that it is incredibly difficult to decide which choices are better in terms of expected impact on well-being. When you add to that that no individual exists in isolation, and every choice made at the individual level has significant ramifications on other people, how can you say there is an objective right and wrong? How do you cut through the uncertainty?

Which standard do you start with? What’s good for the individual or what’s good for the group? If you tell me (hypothetically) that what’s good for the individual is the place to base an objective standard on, what is the significance of that for societies, such as in Japan, where people believe what’s good for the group is the proper standard to use?

fundevogel's avatar

@wundayatta “How is that different from “the greatest good for the greatest number?”

You could argue that it isn’t. But you have to remember that protecting the welfare of individuals, rather than just the masses is good for the masses. If random people can be sacrificed willy nilly for the good of the group that undercuts the welfare of the group since members of that group live under constant threat of being thrown under the bus.

“Also, what happens when there are competing points of view about what increases well-being, such as there is now in the US government? Even on the individual level, it often seems to me that it is incredibly difficult to decide which choices are better in terms of expected impact on well-being.”

Some things are easier than others, you’ll note I mentioned the difficulty in coming to agreement about the best way to promote welfare in my original post. However I think you’re making this more complicated than it needs to be. For most situations all you have to do is apply the principles Emiy Post bases her etiquette advice on. You know, being nice to people. Sam Harris argues the scientific application of logic should resolve more difficult ethical problems.

“Which standard do you start with? What’s good for the individual or what’s good for the group?”

I’m repeating myself here, but you have to ensure the welfare of the individual for the group to have anything even remotely resembling welfare. The group is not being protected if at any given moment a member knows their welfare could be sacrificed for the group.

“If you tell me (hypothetically) that what’s good for the individual is the place to base an objective standard on, what is the significance of that for societies, such as in Japan, where people believe what’s good for the group is the proper standard to use?”

Well, the fact that some societies have systems of morality that I disagree with, in part or whole cloth does not automatically mean the one I advocate is wrong. Disagreement alone is not proof that a claim is wrong. You have to look at the various systems and figure which one creates a society where well-being is best maximized. I doubt there is any legislative system around that has perfectly enshrined the welfare of their people in their country. But it is obvious that some are doing it better than others.

According to my reasoning this would be a flaw in Japan’s cultural morality. But that doesn’t mean that the system is incapable of ever making good moral choices. It just means it is more susceptible to allowing certain types of suffering than systems that do concern themselves with the welfare of individuals.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@saint Mob rule is what happens when an objective moral standard is abandoned or ignored Mob rule happens when a group of people take it upon themselves to enforce what they deem correct on someone else with no more proof of being correct less they have the superior numbers to pull it off. They have a bigger mob, how ever civil they conduct it, their mob is bigger than someone else’s so they win.

fundevogel's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I don’t think your definition of mob rule conflicts with saint’s comment.

wundayatta's avatar

@fundevogel Thank you for your explanations.

One difference between us is that I think you are making it less complicated than it is. This could be a fundamental difference between our points of view and could lead directly to the opinions about whether there can be an objective morality.

However, it is interesting to me that you don’t directly say that Japanese society is objectively immoral. You call the emphasis on the group first a flaw, instead of condemning it out of hand. To me, this indicates more of a recognition of the complexity and uncertainty of moral thinking than you otherwise indicate.

I am now interested in trying to understand where your belief that ensuring the welfare of the individual takes precedence over the welfare of the group comes from. Building on that, as I understand you, you are saying that you can not have group welfare without first ensuring individual welfare… as the individual understands it? I am adding that last part as a question, because you did not say that. I am trying to understand how you see the interplay of the views of the group with the views of the individual.

For example, I believe you are religious and that you probably belong to a congregation. In my experience, congregations are somewhat ferocious in their defense of their notion of moral behavior. If anyone deviates, they come down hard. Yet an individual may find that that deviation is best for him or her as an individual. Is that a case where the welfare of the group comes first?

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