Rationalization #58: The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”



I am embarrassed to admit that I missed this one, which is common and sinister. When I get around to re-numbering the list, it will be grouped with #13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause,” and #14. Self-validating Virtue.

The rationalization eluded me because it seems like it could often be a fair statement of fact rather than a rationalization, a lie or logical fallacy that is used to justify conduct but does not. “It’s the right thing to do” is routinely used to end a debate, however, when it is only a proposition that must be supported with facts and ethical reasoning. Simply saying “I did it/support it/ believe in it because it’s the right thing to do” aims at ending opposition by asserting virtue and wisdom that may not exist.  The question that has to be answered is why “it’s the right thing to do,” and “Because it’s just right, that’s all,” “Everybody knows it’s right,” “My parents taught me so,” “That’s what God tells us in the Bible,” and many other non-answers do not justify the assertion.

Maybe it’s the right thing, and maybe not. Just saying it conduct is right without doing the hard work of ethical analysis is bluffing and deflection. “It’s the right thing to do” you say?

Prove it.