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(Text as at 12/08/2007 10:17:46)
The term wrong is not equivalent to "not right". An action cannot be categorised as wrong simply because it cannot be categorised as right. A large proportion of our actions are simply functional, with no ethical dimension.
- Care has to be taken in evaluating the consequences of actions to include the wider context. There will be occasions when an act will be categorised as right when, in isolation, it does not increase the sum of the available good, though it does when more remote factors are taken into account. Such a case would be when a persistent failure to act would result in an even worse state of affairs. In such a way, judicial or military acts may (usually or on occasion) be categorised as right.
- One can conceive of difficult situations in which one is compelled to act in order to produce evil results, or where even a failure to act may result in evil consequences. In such circumstances, no right action is possible, though wrong actions may be.
- In situations such as the above, an action may, therefore, be categorised as wrong if it is likely to decrease the good when a simple failure to act would have a less detrimental effect (provided a null act is possible).
- Similarly, an action would be categorised as wrong if it is likely to decrease the good when a readily available alternative act would have a less detrimental effect.
- In the above, we must not forget that moral judgements are not the issue, nor whether a particular individual would, in practise, be able or willing to obey our ethical rules. The only relevant issue is the determination of the correct course of action.
|Note last updated
||Reference for this Topic
||508 (Non-theistic Ethics - Wrong)
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