An Apology for Alyosha

September 24, 2009

Ethics is not mathematics. A balanced equation of right and wrong does not justice make. The most dangerous individuals had the best intentions supported by earthly logic and balanced equations. It is not right to murder one innocent child to save the entire universe.

You must only commit good acts to prevent bad acts. Doing a bad act to prevent a worse outcome is still vile, contemptible, and a sign of our base nature – the nature which craves justification for our inner most demons. The devil is a logician too, after all. So despite your desire to help or save another, you mustn’t commit an evil act to do so.

The question is – can we live like that?



  1. “You must only commit good acts to prevent bad acts.” But isn’t this a retreat to that logical world of ethics? I know I merely point out the obvious here: that ethics has a fuzzy logic all its own and that continually surprises us with conundrums. I think of Sophie’s Choice: what would her good act be? To do nothing murders both children. To murder one merely murders the other. No good act. Hence her own enslavement into a dark cavernous hell. Of course, her “decision” was not of her own volition, yet, it was still hers to make.

    • The best ethical act is to not act. We only have control over our actions. Great ethic problems are made when we try to weigh and balance beenfits in ethical action. Two lives may be lost, but at no fault to the agent. Ethics tells you how to live your life. The best choice FOR you is to not act and let two lives be lost if acting means killing one or the other. It is never good for a free agent to willingly choose to end one person’s life despite the good consequences that come of it.

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