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by Sherry Li

There are many arguments on what morality is and what is considered right or wrong. I’m sure many of you have heard of the trolley problem. It’s something along the lines of “you are riding in a trolley without functioning brakes, headed toward a switch in the tracks. On the current track stand five innocent strangers who will be killed if the trolley continues on its path. You have access to a switch that would make the trolley change to the other track, but someone very close to you (maybe your loved ones) stands on the other track. Would you switch the course of the trolley?” This is a very controversial question that is under constant debate. If you choose to switch, you would be purposefully choosing to kill your loved one. However, if you don’t, you are killing 5 innocent people. These types of questions make people wonder what is wrong and what is right.

Lord of the Flies is a book written by William Golding after his experiences in World War II. The book talks about a group of boys stranded on an island without parental supervision and slowly becoming insane. As time progress, the group of boys loses a sense of morality, and thoughts of killing each other arise. Golding is trying to show through this book that humans are born inherently evil and that dark nature shows in desperate situations. However, others may argue that humans are born inherently good and the environment they grow up in makes them evil instead.

Thomas Hobbes and Jean-Jacques Rousseau represent the most famous, opposing views. Hobbes described humans as nasty and brutish. He believed society and rules improve our bad nature. Rousseau argued instead that we are gentle and pure. He blamed society for corrupting our innate good nature. Aristotle argued that morality is something we learn. And that we are born as ‘amoral’ creatures. Sigmund Freud considered newborns a moral blank slate. Paul Bloom, author of Just Babies: The Origins of Good and Evil, states babies as young as one year old can distinguish good and bad to a certain degree. Babies are geared towards good but also want to take revenge on the “bad”. Research in 2010 done by Yale also proves similar findings.

Deontology is the theory that the morality of an action should be based on whether that action itself is right or wrong under a series of rules, rather than based on the consequences of the action. Utilitarianism is a version of consequentialism, which states that the consequences of any action are the only standard of right and wrong. Unlike other forms of consequentialism, such as egoism and altruism, utilitarianism considers the interests of all humans equally. Both of these are different thoughts on morality and what it should be based on.

There is no right way of thinking and everyone has different standards of what is right and wrong. But there are always the basic standards of what isn’t right and we should always be nice to people if possible. Basic societal rules such as not taking things not belonging to you are not always followed but should be. Although not everyone is a moral person and there’s crime every day, we should not follow their path and think things through with a rational and moral mind.


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