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Right Or Wrong

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Right or Wrong?

Right or Wrong? How many times must an individual be faced with those three words in a lifetime? What makes them choose one or the other? Is the right choice always necessarily the moral choice? Who decides what is right or wrong? These are all relevant questions in this struggling issue in life. Could the belief in karma be enough for one to lead a "good" moral existence? The finger is always pointed towards one's self interest and one's outcome of their decisions. In Thomas Nagel's paper, Right and Wrong, Nagel attempts to explain the differences and the thoughts behind right and wrong decisions. He makes references to personal benefits, religion, and punishments of decision-making. Nagel's paper truly defines thought processes as well as how human beings come to decide life choices and pathways for their futures.

As children we are taught right and wrong. We know that if we take a cookie from the cookie jar before dinner; that is wrong. How did we learn this? Punishment from our parents is usually a good reference to learn from. We knew that if those cookie's were touched before dinner, a time out or no desert at all was given. Eventually, we continue to learn through middle childhood and early adulthood. Most of us learn that if we hit other children on the field or do not share, our teachers become the teachers of right and wrong. If that homework is not completed on time, the failing grade will be given. Then in the long run, we start to discover media and what our society considers right and wrong. We see that if someone commits a crime, the law takes effect and the offender is punished. We learn through trial and error, but what goes on internally? What is the thought process that makes us choose?

At first Nagel references his paper to any individual faced with an ultimatum. As a friend comes to a familiar face with a poor decision, you become stuck in the middle. You have the choice to make a right decision, or a wrong one. If an outside influence comes to put you in a position of wrongdoing, it becomes your individual hesitance that decides the outcome. Fear of what might happen toys with the outcome. After all, most individuals would not put themselves in a position where unfortunate consequences will result. Could a friend be just enough to persuade you to make that one wrong move in life?

When is comes down to it, everything comes down to ought. What ought I do? What should my choices be in order to fulfill what I ought to do? Values are the basis of our individuality and who we are. Values break down into categories. Self-interest is one of them. Self-interest breaks down into two divisions, short term and long term. What will happen to me now? What will happen to me in the future? As short term only focuses on cheap consequences, long term is the true outcome of our decisions. What values can we establish to help the question of right or wrong? Can or values be the ending factor or does there have to be more?

Nagel continues to discuss rules. He states, "to say it's wrong is not just to say it's against the rules(Nagel 59)." This interprets to a deeper meaning of wrong, not just following guidelines. He ties rules to laws. Traditionally, law adds order. Although there are many definitions of laws, one states that it is "a rule or body of rules of conduct inherent in human nature and essential to or binding upon human society." Law is fallible. It can make mistakes. Just because something is law, doesn't make it right. Law has made many mistakes in it's time. One can be referenced to racial discrimination as Nagel refers to it. In the end, wrong and right differ from the rules. Without rules though, there could be no interpretation of right or wrong actions.

Wrong requires discomfort. If there is no discomfort in wrong, then why do anything right? There has to be a desire to perform right. Thinking of others sways wrong and right. The decision to perform right in the thought that others would hurt prevents wrong, not only to others, but to authority as well. Right and wrong have to be resulted with authority. Just the thought of wrong has to impact an individual enough to create the outcome. The all ending question comes down to, who cares? If a person has the mindset of, who cares?, why do anything right. If there is no consideration of others before self, right has no benefit or no need in one's thought process. Plus if there are no consequences, why do anything right? Consequences should come from internal before external.

Morality is one of the biggest influences of right and wrong. Morality's definition is very clear and distinct with the basis of right and wrong. It states: morality is the "concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct." Many different aspects come into play with morality. Who decides morality? Nagel ties God to morality in his essay. Although the traditional theory is that God is moral and therefore decides what is moral, questions arise with his creating of rules or guidelines. The concerning question is if God's commandments are moral because God commands them, or is God moral because they are moral? Once again it comes to value theories. If all moral judgments are value judgments, one must have the best morality to perform the best judgments. If God is all powerful, all knowing, and all good, how could he create wrong? He created choice. Without choice, there is no wrong.

Nagel continues to discus a more realistic motive to God's rules. To perform right is to return the love that God has for you. However, three objections come into play. One: even people who don't believe in God still make right judgments. Two: if God exists, and forbids what is wrong, that isn't enough to make it wrong. If God made unrealistic rules to what is wrong, we would be advised not to do them, but it wouldn't be wrong. Three: fear of punishment and want of reward should not be the basis morality. If a person thinks it is wrong to kill or steal, he or she should not want to do those things. With these said, God obviously does not have to be a major player in the role of



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