There is no right or wrong

There are merely consequences.

The Bible’s Golden Rule – do unto others as you would have them do to you – is a moral that is widespread across human cultures. What happens if you don’t treat others reciprocally?

Game theory tells us that we don’t like associating with others who aren’t reciprocal. If you take and don’t give at all, people will gradually stop giving you anything – time, attention, company or opportunities to collaborate.

Everybody knows that slavery is wrong. This is only because of the consequences of practicing slavery.

A society which denigrates some human beings to be bought and sold in a marketplace reduces the value of human life as a whole. Slavery reduces human beings to commodities and thereby corrupts the very society that is built upon its shoulders. Perhaps this is one reason why the Roman empire fell.

Honesty is touted to be the right thing to do. People whose words are consistent with their actions earn credibility. Dishonest people face the consequence that nobody is willing to trust them. And yet, it is wrong to be honest if the consequences are unfavourable – like being an informant to the secret police or the Nazi regime.

All of morality is a set of consequences that are the result of the decisions we make. Right and wrong, good and bad, virtuous and evil – these are merely our simplistic attempts to categorize those consequences as black or white. Understanding the consequences themselves gives us the ability to navigate through the more numerous grey regions.

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