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Which of these do you prefer? (ethics question)

Asked by weeveeship (4387 points ) May 6th, 2014

Which of these people do you prefer (i.e. is more admirable)?

1. A person who intended to do something evil but ended up doing something very good. (e.g. A scientist developed something that he thought was a poison that could be used to kill people. The “poison” turned out to be not only nontoxic but also a cure for a particularly grievous disease. Millions were cured because of that “poison.”)

2. A person who intended to do something good but ended up doing something very evil. (e.g. A scientist developed a device that he hoped would revolutionize the economy and create jobs for many people. Instead, the device turned out to be an efficiently lethal weapon that many dictators used to carry out mass genocide.)

Assume: Both people died immediately after making their “contribution” to the world (mentioned above). Thus, the “evil” person could concoct no more evil plots, and the “good” person could develop no more well-intentioned plans. Both are powerless to stop or reverse the aftermath of what they had wrought.

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