Essay on Morality: What Is Right or Wrong

Published: 2021-07-26
1243 words
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Carnegie Mellon University
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When it was reported that a teenage high school student punched his teacher two times in the face (Rosenberg), the public received the news with mixed feelings and opinions. The 19-year-old Penzo was reported by New York Post to have hit his teacher following an altercation after the teacher ordered him to turn his music down. As the prosecutors reported, Penzo was told to by Mathew Tossman to turn down his music on the head. When he refused the directive, he dropped the headphones with music booming after which the Tossman headed for the device. Before he could grab them, Penzo pounced on and hit leaving him with cuts which required at least seven stitches. The boy was later arrested and charged with assault in a Manhattan court. After his case was heard, Judge Edwina Richardson-Mendelson accorded him a consideration of a minor offender. She decided against jailing him if he kept out of trouble for three years. Good behavior would also prevent his name from entering the criminal records. Tossmans lawyer refused to comment on the issue. While everyone was appalled by the reactionary action of the boy, some questioned what moral grounds motivated him to punch his teacher. Penzos confession in court was that the teacher was aggressive on him and he lost control. Questions can be asked as to what happened to respect and the moral authority that teachers have over students. Other might argue that Penzo was reacting to an aggressive action, but it is believable that each social institution is founded upon certain codes of conduct which should be adhered to by students. On the other hand, teachers also have moral and professional ethics by which they should behave. I would like to say that it was morally wrong for Penzo to punch his teacher. The moral fabric of the society has greatly eroded that what should be right or wrong is never considered so. Honestly, when the courts judgment fully favored Penzo, it meant that the teachers moral authority over his students was rubbished despite the fact that teachers are meant to shape the behaviors of learners.

This debate brings to focus what should be considered morally right or right. This topic is bound to be limited by various variations and perceptions depending on the regional and social considerations because what some societies consider right or wrong could be easily compromised in other societies in other geographical regions. The word right relates to some truth, reason, fact, standard or principle while wrong is equivalent to anything incorrect in action, opinion, judgment or method (Langdon & Catriona). On the contrary to what some people might derive from the meanings of these words, the moral code depends on what one believes in. What is morally right would be what one is convinced is right, and so is that which is wrong. But two things remain common in the majority of cultures: respect of elders and obligations to their moral authority over the younger generation. This is the same moral responsibility that parents have over their children as they grow up till they are mature enough, teaching them the core principles of morality.

Principles of Morality

What is moral or immoral corresponds to what is good or bad, right or wrong. The core maxims of morality include moral reasoning, and societal norms, values or standards (Christians). Other scholars have also identified additional foundations or principles of morality like liberty versus oppression, care versus harm, fairness versus unfairness, loyalty versus betrayal, and good versus evil among others. The power of moral reasoning enhances ones consciousness to realize the need to conform to the norms of a particular society. The contribution of philosophical perspective in the understanding morality has been improved by certain ethics which describe peoples behaviors towards some actions. The resultant consequences are then used to judge whether the action was right or wrong.

As it stands, the paradigms of distinctions between what is morally right and wrong are changing. The reason behind this paradigm shift includes the aspect of change (Martin). The morals of most societies have changed so are people and their view of the same morals. For instance, what was wrong some decades ago may not be considered so today. Homosexuality is an example of those controversies which have defined the change of morals. Some decades back, homosexuality was an immorality in most societies until change swept in through various means. Centuries ago, slavery and racism were so right that practicing both acts were no one would speak against them. Nowadays acts are both are unlawful and morally wrong (Jacobus). It is worthy to understand that when morals stray to undesirable actions, the law is there to regulate or restrict actions peoples actions.

A system of morals is well described by ethics guiding people on how to live better lives and bypass certain dilemmas concerning rights and responsibilities as well as moral decisions. The morality roadmap has been derived from various cultures, religions, and philosophies to direct aspects of professional conduct, human rights and controversial topics like abortion and homosexuality. Religious books like the bible provide their fair share of insights on the foundation of morality. For the Greeks and other philosophers, excellence was equated to virtue. By virtue, Aristotle asserts that any activity of a rational soul is right or good (Garver).

Lately, it is becoming increasingly complicated to understand what termed right or wrong. People have begun to follow their moral compasses, that is, to determine according to their understanding of good or bad, moral or immoral, right or wrong. When Martin Luther King Junior called upon his followers to apply nonviolent means of championing for their rights, he was convinced that his methodology was the right one. On the other hand, Malcolm X encouraged his loyalists that the best way to respond to violence was with violence when fighting for their rights. Even if both had right messages, people judged Luthers technique and course as good and right. The society then agreed that even though Malcolms idea was right, his methodology was wrong. These judgments are realistically on point as the intent of both activists were right.


From a personal perspective, Id conclude that what is morally right is anything that does not leave ones conscience in guilt after an action or response. What is morally right is anything that conforms to the societal standards and norms. For something to be considered as morally right, it should not go against the preexisting doctrines and fabrics on which a society is established. It has to incorporate respect, goodwill, honesty, truth, fairness, and loyalty among others. Any other action that seems to be the opposite of these virtues can be considered wrong or immoral. Gauging my understanding from some Aristotelian arguments, I think that moral reasoning plays a very significant role in determining whether or not something is right or wrong.

Work Cited

Christians, Clifford G. Media Ethics: Cases and Moral Reasoning. , 2017. Print.

Garver, Eugene. Confronting Aristotle's Ethics: Ancient and Modern Morality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006. Internet resource.

Jacobus, Lee A. A World of Ideas: Essential Readings for College Writers. , 2017. Print.

Langdon, Robyn, and Catriona Mackenzie. Emotions, Imagination, and Moral Reasoning. New York, NY: Psychology Press, 2012. Print.

Martin, Kennaah. "Exploring Right And Wrong: How Our Morals And Values Change As Life Does." Odyssey. N.p., 2016. Web. 2 Oct. 2017.

Rosenberg, Rebecca. "Teen Who Punched Principal In Face Gets Sweet Deal From Judge." New York Post. N.p., 2017. Web. 3 Oct. 2017.

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