How can you tell what is right and what is wrong? There are many people out there who can tell you this thing is wrong or that thing is wrong and they all think they are right. When taking advice from people you want to consider how they reached the conclusions that they did, including listening to me.

I developed my personal value system from a combination of trial and error… mostly error and studying ethics as part of my philosophy degree and through hours of deep thought.

It is unfortunate that many people acquire their personal value system directly from their parents and their upbringing, and never choose to question it. However, it is through questioning that we can grow and come to a better understanding about what we truly think about an issue.

Having a strong understanding about why we believe something is right or wrong gives us the ability to argue your point of view more effectively, rather than defending a particular attitude that we might not personally hold. This can lead to a lot less confrontation in life but when there is confrontation we are far less likely to be on the losing end.


Get Informed

Firstly you need to be informed. How can you make a real decision about what to believe if you are not informed? This means read newspapers, Do Internet research, ask questions about it, and ask people why they believe that they are right in their opinions.

Separate Facts from Opinion

This is easier said than done but once you have a good idea of the different positions on an issue. You will begin to find certain arguments or positions more compelling. Do People’s Arguments Make Logical Sense? Do their premises actually lead to their conclusions? If they don’t it doesn’t necessarily mean they are morally wrong only that their justifications are flawed. Logic is a useful tool for discovering if one thing leads to another. However it is a poor tool for measuring depth of feeling. I believe logic should be tempered with a little compassion simple offence is not enough to make something wrong.


Once you have uncovered all the arguments that actually make logical sense, the next step is to introspect. Why are the arguments that you find most appealing so compelling to you? Are you being influenced in some way by your upbringing or experiences, or does it come from your religious background? From where do your own attitudes spring?   In order to make an appropriate choice about which attitudes you want to integrate into your personal value system, it is important to understand where those attitudes stem from. You can then reject attitudes that are not your own, and begin to make decisions about who you want to be.

Don’t Follow Others Blindly

The actions of others can be an inspiration. However, it is unwise to follow someone else’s personal value system blindly. Following another’s teachings can be worthwhile if the values truly mesh with your own personal value system - though I believe that would be a rare occurrence.

Make a Lifelong Commitment to Personal Growth

Developing a personal value system is an ongoing process of evolving and revising your own personal beliefs. As you make an ongoing commitment to personal growth and begin to understand yourself and your motivations, you should continue to challenge and modify your outlook as new evidence comes to light.