Just for starters we can break down the commission of any act into four (or more) seperate value judgements.
The four I commonly address would be:
The Person - the overall judgement of the ethics of the person
The Act - the Action itself.
The Result - the effects of the action
The Motive - the intention/reason for the act.
Interestingly current events in the "Global Warming Information War" ethicists are debating all four of the above in generally the manner I was suggesting here/above ( viewtopic.php?f=1&t=12578#p163302
A major Global Warming activist recently impersonated a board member of a Skeptic organization got someone to send him the organizations donor and budget information and then, not finding anything specifically incriminating, forged a company memo detailing an appropriately evil sounding plan that explained the items in the budget memos. He then released the package anonymously to a number of Global Warming news outlets as a smoking gun implicating the Skeptic organization in a half dozen evil plots.
Fortunately/Unfortunately the plan quickly unraveled as his distinct writing style was recognized in the creation of the company memo which was an obvious fake.
Various ethicists are now saying his actions are good or evil based on:The Person - the overall judgement of the ethics of the person
the person is a ethics board member on a half a dozen national boards including the National Academy of Science, American Geophyiscal Union, etcThe Act - the Action itself.
the act itself is deceitful: lying, stealing, impersonation, forgery, etcThe Result - the effects of the action
if he succeeded he may have undermined the only major Skeptic organizer, fund raiser and think tank.
However, in failing he has undermined dozens of national organizations he was a member of, the column he wrote for Forbes magazine, other work he did as an activist against bottled water.
The actual information he turned up was harmless and showed a tiny under funded organization with no evil oil company donors and much of the funding going to healthcare initiatives and other projects.
The whole issue ended up exposing the seedy underbelly of the Global Warming movement instead of the intended target.The Motive - the intention/reason for the act
as a quote: "Kant said that when judging the morality of an act, we must weigh the intentions of the actor. Was he acting selfishly, to benefit himself, or selflessly, to help others? By this criterion, [his] lie was clearly moral, because he was defending a cause that he passionately views as righteous…"there are dozens of factors complicating the issue such as:
He had been communicating with the organization beforehand and they stated that though they had promoted everyone publishing donors in the past no one else did and it had become a safety issue with donors subject to harassment and threats. Publishing private information that put individuals safety at risk.
He was invited to the Skeptic's forum for a paid debate where he could have raised any issues he had publicly at no cost to himself.
He is a ethics promoter and professional ethicist.
He is a scientist - as well as a journalist and activist - and scientists have specific rules about proof and openness further his lapse undermines faith in other scientists and organizations.
Global Warming believers widely believe the "Climategate" emails that exposed lies, hidden information and pressure tactics embarassing and undermining the Global Warming movement may have been stolen or hacked - thus justifying similar tactics in response.
Not to mention "perspective" as in do you believe in "catastrophic man made global warming" or that "global warming alarmism is a lie or a scam"
Some of his supporters not only consider his actions "moral" but "heroic": putting his profession and repution on the line at great personal risk to take down a evil global warming denier and servant of the global oil funded denialist conspiracy.
One discussion specifically addressing the ethics is here - and adresses all 4 of the above considerations: http://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2012/02/ ... -the-line/