Ethics are messy. Very few people understand their own foundations for ethical discussions, and those who do won’t necessarily agree, and even if they agree on the foundations, they can still disagree on the implications of those foundations. That being said, I’ll take a stab at it.
I think using information that comes from an unethical source is okay. I do have to clarify. If some life-saving research was 99% complete, and one more person had to die to complete the cure that could save millions, it wouldn’t be right to kill that one more person. But if you have information gained by the blood of the innocent, what good is there in letting it gather dust? The evil cannot be undone, so do good in the name of the lives that were lost.
Suppose an unscrupulous scientist was doing his nefarious experiments in hiding, but was able to release his findings on the internet as he came across them. This starts getting into some grayer territory, but I say use the information. Stop him. Let justice be brought to him, but if what he provides could save lives, use it.
In short, murder is wrong, but saving lives is saving lives.
Awaiting your response,
After watching a rerun of Star Trek: Voyager, I came across a particularly interesting moral dilemma. In the episode, medical procedures that had been discovered by unethical experimentation on sentient creatures were used to save a crewmember after an alien parasite had attached itself to the crewmember. This presented an ethical problem for the crew, as the medical technique used to save the individual was developed by a doctor who, in the course of his experimentation, killed thousands of people. His methods included infecting people with a virus and observing them die, opening patients abdominal cavities and expose their organs to radiation, and many other attrocities. His results, however, led to success. He learned enough to create vaccines to the viruses he infected his patients with, to significantly advance the medical profession, and ultimately, to save the life of the crewmember of the Star Fleet vessel.
This presents an interesting delima. Does the source of information matter? Is there a morality component to the use of information? Can information be used without the ethics of its discovery affecting the morality of its use, or is the source of infomation relevant to its use?
This is the first post in a long series of conversations between myself and Onix. I’m Jonah, by the way, glad you’re reading along. The first set of conversations we plan to start cover topics ranging from time travel to the nature of self, and beyond. I’m not much for long introductions, so go check out my about page if you really want to know more about me.
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