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Thursday, September 10, 2015

A tale of vigilante justice

Adulterers, hackers, and the Ashley Madison affair

By Russell Blackford
The Conversation
Originally published on August 23, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

Whatever you think about adulterous liaisons – even if you regard them as outrageous, destructive, morally wicked breaches of trust – this sort of vigilante justice is unacceptable. When vigilantes set out to punish sinners or wrongdoers, the results can be perverse, disproportionate, sometimes extreme and often irreversible. Even the supposed victims of wrongdoers may end up worse off.

It is difficult enough to judge the wisdom of revealing an adulterous affair to an affected individual when the facts are fairly clear and the consequences are possibly manageable. Indiscriminately letting loose this kind of data, affecting millions of personal situations, is atrociously arrogant and callous.

I’m sure that customers signed up to Ashley Madison for a wide range of reasons. Some may have done little or nothing wrong, even by conventional standards of sexual morality, but will now be held up for public shaming. Some may have been sufficiently interested in a phenomenon such as Ashley Madison to want to research it from the inside. Many may simply have been curious.

Others may have toyed with the idea of an affair, but not in a serious way – they may have been driven by their curiosity and other emotions to browse the site, but gone no further. Some may have been in open relationships of one kind or another: but even so, they could be embarrassed, shamed and otherwise harmed by revelations about their memberships.

The entire article is here.
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