What is the Definition of "right"?

I wrote half of this in F&NS class, and the other half on Facebook for some important people to read (which they wouldn't have read otherwise). It's choppy, messy, and it's my thoughts as they spilled out.


That is what a sign clipped to the top of the whiteboard in my Food&Nutrition Sciences classroom says.

It bothers me. Not because I believe I've done the "wrong" thing to someone recently (I don't think I have...) It's because I want to know what the definition of "right" is, other than the direction, and I don't. I can guess, I can contemplate, I can write down paragraphs of what I think "right" is, and maybe boil it down to a sentence or two, but I don't think I'll ever be 100% sure.

So, what is the "right" thing? If you ask around, I am sure you will get a colorful collage of different answers, especially in high school. You'd get a lot of joke-answers mixed in with the deep-thought, deep-dug answers as well as those in between the two extremes. You'd even be met with silent answers- the shrugs, the eye rolls, the smirks that hint that in their mind, you're off your rocker.

One of the most popular answers, I'd assume, would be that it depends on the situation. If I were to choose an answer and leave it like that, I'd probably say the same thing. But I'm not in the mood for such an answer that leaves so many ifs, ands and buts. I want the real truth. I want a definition of "right" that encompasses every situation, every if, every and, every but, and leaves little to no questioning.

The problem with "it depends on the situation" is that it gives no clear meaning to "right" or "wrong." With such a definition, doesn't it allow anything ever seen as "wrong" to be suddenly "right"?

Can the right thing one day be the wrong thing the next day? And vice versa?

Yes. That seems to be what it's saying. So, how do we boil that down. How do we make it applicable in a easy-to-read, easy-to-use form? How do we finally define what "Right" is based on this philosophy if "right" and "wrong" are constantly changing places? How does someone properly, solidly, and truthfully define it?

And there are always more than one answer, one "right" way to go. How do you choose? Here's where either you go to "Whichever one is most right," (which seems to me is begging the whole debate to start from the beginning) or "Whichever is right concerning you."

Which is pretty much to say (in my eyes) whichever answer will make you happy while still being morally well.

This argues the question of what if you're not self-centered? What if you somehow care about who will be hurt by you choosing what is "right" for you because it's "wrong" for them (which gives another pathway to another argument about what is "right")? Yes, you are better off, but what about them? You'd be feeling pretty guilty, I think, so was the decision really "right"?

What if either answer you chose would hurt someone, and you decided Hey, I can't take hurting anymore, so I need to choose what's right by me, instead of what's right by them? What if no one understood this, no one saw your effort to choose right and blame you for choosing wrong? Are you Right, or are you Wrong? Is the result chosen by how many people vote for either one?

Right isn't always as easy as following a rubric or answering a math question. It's this fuzzy grey area that just gets more fuzzy and shaded the deeper you peer into it. It's an argument that can and will go on and on forever. It is a question that has an answer much too complicated for daily use. It could drive someone insane, really.

So, what is your definition of "right"? What is the "right" thing to do?


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