The question of what is wrong and what is right causes many debates and controversies. A lot of philosophers and scholars tried to understand this issue, yet there is no clear definition of “right”, and every person perceives it differently. All the diversity of human behavior forms, experiences, cultures, and other peculiarities determines the views on right and wrong issues, people, events, et cetera.
Every person perceives the world through the prism of his or her own experience. Since backgrounds of people are different, the perception also varies. In like-minded people, there are often some similar details of the biography or the same environment in which they were brought up (Pojman & Fieser, 2017). Such people may have the same or at least similar attitudes regarding what is wrong and what is right. On the contrary, people with different backgrounds are more likely to reveal completely diverse views on one or another action made by others (Pojman & Fieser, 2017). For example, it seems to be difficult for a man from the low-income community to understand the needs of a famous artist and vice versa. In other words, everyone regards the concepts of “good” or “bad” in his or her way, and everyone is right.
A sawmill worker from northern California who have no job would differently consider the issue cutting old growth forests compared to a young lawyer working in San Francisco and enjoying hiking in the Sierras. In particular, one may suggest that the mentioned lawyer would advocate for leaving forests intact in an attempt to be environmentally-friendly and contribute to the common cause. In his turn, the sawmill worker is likely to support cutting trees to have a job and have resources to live. It is possible to state that both of them are right in their way.
Indeed, various factors may affect one’s perception of “good” and “bad”, while the impact of a decision regarding “right” should also consider its impact on others (Shalvi, Gino, Barkan, & Ayal, 2015). For example, in case of cutting old forests, it is essential to pay attention not only to personal views of both sides but also to the potential impact of this action. If one wants to do good to a person, he or she should consider first whether the actions will be justified or whether other people will suffer from it. This will ensure the comprehensive approach to identifying what is wrong and what is right. Accordingly, to understand the point of the sawmill worker, the lawyer should try to understand his views and vice versa.
It is also essential to turn one’s attention to that there could not be any universal definition of “wrong” and “right” since all people are different. Even those living in the same area and belonging to the same culture may have varying attitudes to the environment caused by different preferences in music, upbringing style, and so on. The age, gender, membership in organizations, and many other factors should be noted. In other words, background and experience are the key issues that cause such different views. The sawmill and lawyer would argue for cutting old forests and against it, respectively. The former would strive to receive a well-paid job, while the latter would advocate for protecting forests and the environment as a whole.
Pojman, L. P., & Fieser, J. (2017). Cengage advantage ethics: Discovering right and wrong (8th ed.). New York, NY: Nelson Education.
Shalvi, S., Gino, F., Barkan, R., & Ayal, S. (2015). Self-serving justifications: Doing wrong and feeling moral. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 24(2), 125-130.