Context: jokingly referred to me in a social media site. But it happened to my favorite topic!
Right or wrong, good or bad is all related to what is called social contract. In the wild there is no right or wrong, good or bad, but there is unlimited freedom. With social contract, people limit some of their freedom, and swap it for ‘protection’ afforded by the agency effecting the social contract. In modern society this is the state and the government. But it had its origin the moment Homo sapiens formed social groupings for protection from the brute forces of the wild.
Right are those actions that won’t breech the social contract, and wrong are those which impair it. Certain kind of impingements of social contract -like stealing or murder-are so detrimental that they are forbidden by law, but certain other impingements are minor effects – they do not directly affect the social contract, but are nonetheless, discouraged- they are formulated as ‘morals’- these include stuff like incest or adultery.
Most children as they grow up in a particular society have an ‘intuitive’ understanding of what is right or wrong. We don’t know, as variability has it, that some people may not have such an intuitive understanding. But those people who have never had the ‘benefits’ of social contract, can potentially have a disregard for it. Liberals and conservatives differs at the most fundamental level in their approach of dealing with ‘delinquent ‘ of social contract. Liberals think they should be pardoned and reformed, while the conservatives think they should be punished or eliminated.
Religion has highjacked the ‘social contract’ aspect of ‘right and wrong’ and had ‘attributed’ it to supernatural forces. It causes a lot of contradiction as we think about it. As I said, in the wild there is no right or wrong. Thus, in the jungle or in the nature there is no right or wrong. It is brute force all through. But then, you have unlimited freedom. But a life-as the English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes -said ‘Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short’. The intuitive understanding of norms of ‘social contract ‘ is what our moral science teachers tried to ‘spin’ as ‘conscience’.
As an agnostic, it is absolutely important for me to understand it. I think this understanding puts agnosticism in a robust foundation. That’s why I said this is one of my favourite topics. For more on this refer SOCIAL CONTRACT.