Essay about doing the right thing



It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Or is it still morally worse than for you, as the trolley driver, to turn onto the side track? But suppose Luttrell knew that freeing the goatherds would lead to a devastating battle resulting in the loss of his comrades, nineteen American deaths, injury to himself, and the failure of his mission? Home Essays Doing the Right Thing. One way to begin is to notice how moral re ection emerges naturally from an encounter with a hard moral question.

There is a worker on that track, too, but only one. Suddenly, you notice a side track, o to the right. Now consider another version of the trolley story. Debates over bailouts and price gouging, income inequality and a rmative action, military ser vice and same-sex marriage, are the stu of political philosophy. The Taliban ghters also shot down a U. I would never keep that for my self but instead I would go inside and tell the manager that someone had left this item in their cart.

But notice the pressure we feel to reason our way to a convincing distinction between them—and if we cannot, to reconsider our judgment about the right thing to do in each case. For example, one principle that comes into play in the trolley story says we should save as many lives as possible, but another says it is wrong to kill an innocent person, even for a good cause.

We can test this idea by altering the story slightly. We would still need to know who his enemies were, and why he wanted to kill them. Pushing a man to his death with your bare hands does seem more cruel than turning the steering wheel of a trolley.

This book tries to answer that question. Would killing the goatherds be more like turning the trolley or pushing the man o the bridge? Hypothetical examples such as the trolley story remove the uncertainty that hangs over the choices we confront in real life. They prompt us to articulate and justify our moral and political convictions, not only among family and friends but also in the demanding company of our fellow citizens.

Lets say that while at work I see that someone has left a wallet in their shopping cart. But wrestling with their dilemmas sheds light on the way moral argument can proceed, in our personal lives and in the public square. But the decision to do so would have been more wrenching and morally more questionable than if they knew the goatherds to be pro-Taliban spies.

He would die, but the ve workers would be saved. You feel desperate, because you know that if you crash into these ve workers, they will all die. Only the philosopher, in this account, is able to ascend from the cave to the bright light of day, where he sees things as they really are.

Perhaps the reason it is wrong to push is that doing so uses the man on the bridge against his will. Why does the principle that seems right in the rst case—sacri ce one life to save ve—seem wrong in the second? With them was a boy about fourteen years old.

It would be terribly wrong to push the man onto the track. Shortly after the special forces team took up a position on a mountain ridge overlooking the village, two Afghan farmers with about a hundred bleating goats happened upon them. Or lets say that I find that someone has accidentally left an unopened item in their cart.

A philosophy untouched by the shadows on the wall can only yield a sterile utopia. It goes back to the dialogues of Socrates and the moral philosophy of Aristotle. Killing the three Afghans would have saved the lives of his three comrades and the sixteen U. Up ahead you see ve workers standing on the track, tools in hand. Some defend a rmative action in college admissions as a way of righting past wrongs, whereas others consider it an unfair form of reverse discrimination against people who deserve admission on their merits.

The claims of the cave must be given their due. Throughout the school year, young people around the world write statements of belief as a classroom exercise. Murrow's radio series of the s.

Suppose you, as the onlooker, could cause the large man standing next to you to fall onto the track without pushing him; imagine he is standing on a trap door that you could open by turning a steering wheel. Its goal is not to show who in uenced whom in the history of political thought, but to invite readers to subject their own views about justice to critical examination—to gure out what they think, and why.

All they ever see is the play of shadows on the wall, a re ection of objects they can never apprehend. We start with an opinion, or a conviction, about the right thing to do: Would that make it the right thing to do? Moral Dilemmas Few of us face choices as fateful as those that confronted the soldiers on the mountain or the witness to the runaway trolley. And yet the case for killing the goatherds seems somehow stronger than the case for pushing the man o the bridge.

The so-called culture wars are fought over them. But notwithstanding its ancient lineage, it is open to the following challenge: Another part of doing the right thing all the time even when no one is looking is that even if I ever do end up doing the wrong thing then the feeling of guilt is always there and I know that if whatever I did this time was wrong then I will try to correct this wrongdoing because I believe that everyone does the wrong thing sometime but that if they truly do feel remorseful for what they have done then the next time that no one is watching then they will do the right thing.

I believe that when someone decides to not do the right thing just because they know no one is watching is one of the worst things that a person could do. Donate If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc. I always will take it to the customer service with out taking anything because I know that I would feel guilty if I did not do the right thing and stole the money out of it. The fact that Luttrell anticipated the danger and still could not bring himself to kill unarmed civilians in cold blood suggests it may be closer to the pushing case.

And now I leave you with this. Click here to read a sampling of what young people believe. More demanding still is the company of political philosophers, ancient and modern, who thought through, in sometimes radical and surprising ways, the ideas that animate civic life—justice and rights, obligation and consent, honor and virtue, morality and law. Something kept whispering in the back of my mind, it would be wrong to execute these unarmed men in cold blood. A limited time offer! Then we re ect on the reason for our conviction, and seek out the principle on which it is based: This book is not a history of ideas, but a journey in moral and political re ection.

The American soldiers trained their ri es on them, motioned for them to sit on the ground, and then debated what to do about them. We must try to gure out which principle has greater weight, or is more appropriate under the circumstances. One of his three comrades had abstained.