The Meaning of Right and Wrong

The Meaning of Right and Wrong

The Meaning of Right and Wrong

The Meaning of Right and Wrong

Excerpt

Why write another book on ethics? Because our generation faces new events and new ideas bound to support, destroy, or modify the current beliefs about right and wrong. The World War and the Peace of Versailles; the economic consequences and the international adventures to which this war led us; the career and the writings of Gandhi; Freud's widely diffused ideas; the Russian dictatorship with its huge experiments in planned production; the present economic world-crisis, and the resulting doubts about capitalistic economy,--these have set men thinking afresh about economics and about politics. They may well stir any one who is interested in a reasonable plan of life to think again about the meaning of right and wrong.

Here are some ethical problems raised by the challenge of our time:--

1. Are treaties sacred? We have often said so, because if there is anything solid in ethics it is the principle that broken promises destroy self-respect. But we are spurred to reconsider this belief when China, a nation that is not a nation, makes a treaty under a threat of force from Japan. How can a nation that has no national unity bind itself (when it has no self) to keep an agreement which most of its people do not agree to? How sacred is an impossible . . .

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