You’re touching upon questions that our contemporary societies have been grappling with for a long time:
- Do the ends justify the means?
- What is the culpability of those who are just “following orders”?
- Where does that culpability end? At what point is one far enough removed from the act or its consequence to be held blameless?
Law makers and academics continue to grapple with these questions and the answers are not simple.
As developers, I think our minds crave a set of rules that we can codify and that will account for all circumstances. Unfortunately, when it comes to human interaction, the number of edge cases is too high for a clean and elegant abstraction to handle it all.
The debate will rage on, I am sure.
In the meantime, as I said to someone else who recently responded to this article…
I am not claiming the unethical act is due to the tragic outcome. The unethical act was building the deceptive quiz in the first place. That would be true regardless of the outcome.