Friday, April 28, 2006

Motive is where ethics live but consequences must be considered

Bad things happen to everyone, and often times other people cause those bad things to happen. People die in car crashes, rumors damage reputations, and so on. The only way we have to decide if actiona that cause these bad things are ethical is to look at a person's motive. I agree with this completely. Motive is always important. However, the motive alone is not cannot be the only factor we look at. Consequences must be considered. If a person is killed by a drunk driver, it could certainly be argued the driver didn't intend to kill anyone. But should that elivate him from the consequences of drinking and driving. I don't believe it can or should. In the government the law is almost always based on consequences, with consideration to motive stired in. It is done this way because it works and, it seems to me, the reason this works is because everyone has their reasons for what they do, good or bad. Journalism needs to work the same way as the law. Consequences of everything they print needs to be considered. If they aren't, even the best intention will be little justification to the readers who call in angry.

1 comment:

Bittymiah said...

There are some cases in the law where motive is much more important than consequences.

For example murder. It can be justified if in self-defense or excused if the person is declared insane.

Someone dies in both cases but the motive - whether non-maliscious self-defense, or incomprehending insanity - potentially clears the person of the charge of murder.