On a answer dated February 2, 2016, philosopher Michael Lacewing distinguishes between "the right" and "the good". In common usage "right" and "good" often mean the same thing: "do the right thing" means "do the good thing". Could he or others explain that distinction? Thank you.

If I pass the butter, that might be the right thing to do. It might also be a good thing to do, though to my ear it sounds strange, even incomprehensible, to say that it is "the good thing to do", rather than "a good thing to do". "The right thing to do" or "Doing the right thing" are phrases the tell us that an action conforms to a moral rule specifying what is right. The word “right” typically appears in principle- and rule-based connections and contexts, such as legal ones, or the rules of an organization such as a school or a military organization, or a profession with a code of principles or ethics, where what it is right to do is expressed as a given or fixed set of standards of behavior. There is as a result more of a suggestion of a present or potential criticism, so that the word “right” introduces a context in which what is wrong is something that is definitely being ruled out or is not in accordance or conformity with the principle or standard, or because it does not conform. There is some confirmation of this in the etymology of the word, though in general etymology surely cannot be taken to be an infallible guide to meaning and use. “Right” is derived from words that have to do with straightness, normality (in a geometrical sense), conformity to the vertical, or straight ahead, from the Greek orektós, meaning “upright”, and the Latin rectus – hence co-rectness. The straight line is the standard, conformity to which is accordance with the rule, and in its ethical sense the picture is very much what we have when the word “right” is applied to an action – not deviating from the correct or “normal”, in the sense in which the normal is the line with an angle of ninety degrees to the horizontal, i.e. the vertical. (Something related is true of the verb “to rule” in its political or legal senses, which is to do something as with a standard or rule.) For an act to be right, then, is for it to conform to a principle or standard or a rule, or to a “norm”. For an act to be morally right is for it to conform to a standard or principle or rule whose application constitutes an evaluation of human actions and behavior and actions, and some animal actions, as such and in the long run without qualification. We can say of an act that it is good, using a sentence such as "That was a good thing to do", but this conveys something that has more to do with the particular moral quality of the act and the outcome than its conformity to a standard, even a moral one. "Good" more often refers to the _outcome_ or result of an action. One can even think of circumstances in which an action is wrong, but good or necessary. I might think that an assassination will have a good outcome, but also take the view that it is morally wrong to kill, though justified in the circumstances. Then again, one can speak of a good person, but not a right person, as "good" here relates to moral character. Some philosophers have wished to say that it is actions that are right, and motives that are good. This view seems to legislate the concepts, however, in pursuit of an ethical theory. It is better to see what the concepts are first.

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