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Can something be wrong if it doesn't affect others?

Can something be wrong if it doesn't affect others?


  • Total voters
    6

Mirage

Secret Agent
Staff member
V.I.P.
Can something be wrong if it doesn't affect others?

Often times in political/moral/religious debates people raise the argument that "If it doesn't affect others, why should it be illegal?"

What do you think?

I'm leaning towards yes, just because I think all to often people use this argument without thinking through what "affect others" consists of.

I mean, unless you are going to become a monk, aren't your decisions going to affect others in some way?

For example, smoking marijuana. This issue has been argued to death.

"Why should it be illegal if it only affects me?"

Sure, smoking marijuana won't affect others if you smoke it in private (or with other people who aren't bothered by it) and wait until the high wears off before driving. That's the problem though. Same with alcohol.

What if you become high or drunk and decided to get in a car? It's easy to say you won't do it but what if you do. It's also easy to say it doesn't affect your driving but what if it does? When you swerve into oncoming traffic and take out a family on their way home from the movies suddenly your "personal choice" affected other people.
 
Last edited:

PretzelCorps

Registered Member
To the question:

"Can something be wrong if it does not affect others."

Not really, no. If you make a decision, and no one was affected by it, then theoretically it wasn't wrong.

If somewhere down the road, someone is affected by it, then it becomes the wrong thing to have done. I think what regulations and politics try to do is come up with a set of rules that generally have the most beneficial, or neutral outcomes.

Also, using your marijuana example --> If, after doing enough of it it slowly starts to alter your personality, then it eventually ends up affecting your friends and family anyways. Same thing goes with overuse of alcohol.


So --> Doing pot once, with no negative results? Not wrong.

Doing pot forty times a day, with no immediate negative results, but an eventual breakdown of social relationships? Wrong.
 

Iris

rainbow 11!
Well. No, it can't be wrong if it doesn't affect others.
 

Bananas

Endangered Species
I think it can be wrong, if it then affects others in a negative manner it just accentuates its wrongfulness.

The majority of laws and illegalities are in our best interest as an individual and as a collective.

You can apply the cannabis arguement to any other drug. Crack, Heroin etc.... The main arguement with Cannabis though, is how wrong is it? and is it wrong enough to remain illegal, I dont think whether it affects others is relevant.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
I think anything we do to ourselves will eventually affect others...some in more important sense, and some, you barely notice the impact. So yes, it can still be "wrong" even if it barely affect others. But not all wrongs should be illegal. :lol:
 

PretzelCorps

Registered Member
Bananas said:
I think it can be wrong, if it then affects others in a negative manner it just accentuates its wrongfulness.

The majority of laws and illegalities are in our best interest as an individual and as a collective.

You can apply the cannabis arguement to any other drug. Crack, Heroin etc.... The main arguement with Cannabis though, is how wrong is it? and is it wrong enough to remain illegal, I dont think whether it affects others is relevant.
I think anything we do to ourselves will eventually affect others...some in more important sense, and some, you barely notice the impact. So yes, it can still be "wrong" even if it barely affect others. But not all wrongs should be illegal. :lol:

The question isn't "Can something be wrong if it doesn't affect others for a long time," or "Can something be wrong if it only affects others a little bit."


I read it literally:

"Can something be wrong if it does not affect others."
 

Mirage

Secret Agent
Staff member
V.I.P.
I read it literally:

"Can something be wrong if it does not affect others."
Exactly. And I do realize that in the OP I even contradicted the question with my example because in that case it COULD affect others but not necessarily.

The question could be worded a few ways and mean the same thing.

"Can something be wrong if it does not affect others?"

OR

"Is something automatically right if it CAN affect others but not necessarily."
 

PretzelCorps

Registered Member
Actually, I think the best question would be something along these lines:




All decisions involve a certain amount of risk, both to the decidee and those around him/her...

What's the cutoff point? How much risk does it take to make a decision wrong? (and remember --> decisions that affect the decidee also greatly affect those that care about them)
 

Shaggy

Registered Member
I think it all depends on the individual and their moral standing....if something happens that doesn't affect anyone else, different people could have different perspectives on it...

For example,
If one person ran over a cat...it is possible that they could feel there was nothing wrong with as it affected no one (not counting the cat) and it was the cats fault for running in front of the car...

Where as someone else could be very cut up about it and solely blame themselves for what happened...because they have an affliction for cats...

Probably a bad example but its all i got at this time of the morning.
 

ysabel

/ˈɪzəˌbɛl/ pink 5
The question isn't "Can something be wrong if it doesn't affect others for a long time," or "Can something be wrong if it only affects others a little bit."


I read it literally:

"Can something be wrong if it does not affect others."
I know, but my point was I'm having a hard time finding a specific debated action wherein it doesn't affect anyone (even if people claim "it only affects me"). So I tried to separate the effect according to the degree. Of course, it's just a technicality.

Then there's an issue of defining "wrong". Wrong for who? And is wrong defined only by the number of people affected by it? Such that, if it only directly affects you, then it isn't wrong?

Lastly, even if I come up with a reason or example of why something could be wrong even if it "doesn't" affect others, I still wouldn't conclude that that action should be illegal. I don't think all wrongs should be illegal. And that's how I see where the OP was leading...that if we can consider something wrong with an action despite it not having that much effect on others, then it makes a good case for illegalising it. I don't necessarily agree with it either.
 
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