A morally permissible act is considered to be right while the contrary is wrong. There are
divergent theories of morality which attempt to give meaning to the right and wrong analysis of
morality. According to the moral subjectivism theory of morality, what is right or wrong is
determined by an individual. The theory of cultural realism holds that, the cultural environment
determines whether an act is right or wrong. Ethical egoism theory looks at a person’s ego.
According to this theory, an act is right if it’s in line with an individual’s self-interest. Divine
command theory hold the view that right or wrong is based on God’s command. Utilitarian
theory postulate that an act tis right if it results in happiness by the greatest number of people and
wrong if it is it causes pain. There is therefore no universally accepted understanding of what
constitutes right or wrong (Paulina, 2017).
The Pros of Right and Wrong Analysis of Morality
Since there is no universally accepted meaning of right or wrong as a basis of morality,
individuals are at liberty to so determine. After all, universally agreed upon rules of right or
wrong will not be reached. Societal understanding of right or wrong are different due to separate
applicable rules. None ranks higher than the other and there could be no judgments of one
society by another. The divine command theory generally views all persons as equals. The
utilitarian theory rights that which makes a great number of people happy. It is a practical theory
as it allows people to judge what makes them happy based on reasoning and outcomes.
The cons of Right and Wrong Analysis of Morality
Individuals’ decision on right or wrong may not be based on reason but rather self-interest.
Individuals may not therefore agree on what is right or wrong. It is not necessarily the case that
two societies must have different rules of right and wrong. There is also no rules on harmonizing
different societal rules of right or wrong. Adaptability of members of one society to another
poses a challenge. Rules of societal evolution are not addressed. Divine command theory do not
address some rights or wrongs in society. Different holy books and teachings also present diverse
understandings of right or wrong. Utilitarian theory does not adopt rules of happiness to be
followed by all. It ignores so many other factors and only looks at happiness as the basis of right
or wrong. It does not also look at the unintended consequences of what makes people happy.
Long term analysis of what makes people happy does not factor in people and societal evolution
and change of needs.
There are no universally agreed upon rules of right or wrong. It is however left to the dictates of
an individual, society and the All Mighty to determine what constitutes right or wrong.
Bentham, J. (1789). An introduction to the principles of morals and legislation. Printed in the
year 1780, and now first published. By Jeremy Bentham. London: printed for T. Payne, and Son.
Micheal, J. Q. (2006). Ethics for the Information Age. Pearson Education, inc. (2 nd ed.)
Paulina S., (April 2017). Moral Understanding as Knowing Right from Wrong. Ethics, 127, 521-