III. Right and Wrong.


We may now sum up or discussion of right and wrong. When a man asks himself: What ought I to do? he is asking what conduct is right in an objective sense. He cannot mean: What ought a person to do who holds my views as to what a person ought to do? for his views as to what a person ought to do are what will constitute his answer to the question What ought I to do? But the onlooker, who thinks that the man has answered this question wrongly, may nevertheless hold that, in acting upon his answer, the manwas acting rightly in a second, subjective, sense. This second sort of right action we call moral action. We held that an action is moral when the agent would judge it to be right after an appropriate amount of candid thought, or after a small amount in the case of acts which are best when they are unreflecting; the appropriate amount of thought being dependent upon the difficulty and importance of the decision. And we held that an action is right when, of all that are possible, it is the one which will probably have the best results. There are many other meanings of right; but these seem to be the meanings required for answering the questions: What ought I to do? and What acts are immoral? (§ 23 ¶ 1)