How do we know right and wrong?

Right & wrong

Quick answers to common questions

We all make ethical judgments. We believe some things are wrong and others are right, and we can get very upset when we see unethical behaviour cause harm and distress.

Most of us have no doubt that Adolf Hitler was wrong in his “final solution” and in World War II, or that the behaviour of pedophiles, serial killers and rapists is utterly wrong.

But what makes such things wrong? Is there an objectively true standard of right and wrong, which we can use to make these judgments? Is it God that makes them so?

Or are all ethics relative and subjective, just the way we have evolved so that our tribes and societies can work efficiently? Are the things we think are REALLY wrong only?

Whichever view we adopt has implications. We almost certainly won’t stop making moral judgments, but on what basis?

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