It seems to me, what most of us consider wrong, depends on whether we identify with one or the other actor. While this is perfectly human, being subjective, it is not a good measure of good and evil. A better way would be to find an objective measure that is not emotionally dependent but logically consistent. A great deal of the arguments we have in our society can be traced back to this fundamental truism. Government and law would be well served to move past this archaic means of measuring right from wrong. Imagine if we did move our legal system and cultural ethos beyond this pernicious paradigm? Much of the energy we now waste arguing based on our subjective emotions, could be turned to productive discussion, evil would be struck a powerful blow, and people could live much more freely.
Who we identify with says a lot about us. Some people believe abortion is perfectly acceptable while others believe abortion is a terrific evil. Both positions today are largely dependent on who the person identifies with. Those who identify with the woman favor abortion, and those who identify with the baby, are pro life. This fairly obvious observation applies to most of the questions we face as a people. Even questions that bring war into the world can be examined this way. Who you or I believe is right depends on who we identify with.
Let’s face facts, we are not going to change human nature, and to try only shows arrogance and presumption. I cede the fact, we are not going to change, mature or evolve, out of who and what we are. That is not possible. As a people however, we can grow out of our individual dogmatism to find a more human hearted and logical metric, with which to gauge right from wrong. This is only possible if the leaders of society subject their own prejudices to the test. To accomplish that would require limiting the power of the elite at the individual level and empowering a wide range of elite as a group.
There is a stream of philosophical thought in which an action can be measured by the good versus the harm it brings. This is pure sophistry because it takes the individual’s sovereign right out of the equation. All human beings have a right to exist, live as human beings and have property, that supersedes anyone else’s right to enjoyment, food, medicine or even harm. If a scientist came up with a machine that would cure cancer at all stages, but as an input it required a child be put in it and tortured for months, as the innocent child dies of pain overdose, his or her body would emit a substance the machine would then refine that would cure a thousand cases of cancer, would it be right or wrong? What if it would cure ten million? There are those who would identify with the cancer patient and say yes! Those who identify with the child would shudder and scream NO!
Instead of making our decisions on an emotional basis we should strive to take emotions out of it and instead try to use the logic if individual liberty. If a thing harms and individual, even if it brings great benefit to another, it is wrong… no matter the level of benefit. To say a thing is good, even though it does great evil to someone, because it brings great good to another… is selfishness writ large. The good from any action cannot be judged good if it comes at cost to another. What I am saying is that the individual’s sovereign rights must not be infringed on, else that action is wrong, pure and simple.
If we could move as a society, away from measuring good and evil based on some sophist calculation of the good it brings one against the harm it brings another, then we would have made a great leap in human understanding. The rights of the individual must be protected and cannot be measured by another. No one is saintly enough to make that calculation. As in our fictitious machine that cures cancer, the right of the person to life liberty and happiness cannot be trumped by the “good” that would come to millions, even billions of OTHERS, by stepping on the rights of that person. Protecting the individual, my good friends, is the logically consistent measure of right and wrong I would have us replace the emotionally dependent one we use today, that of who we identify with.