Rough Draft: On the Relationship Between Knowledge and Morality

Morality I do not find solely a precedent of knowledge, and even consider that doing harm in ignorance but with good intent makes a better person than knowingly doing good maliciously. One maybe thinks this foolish on two counts: Is not the deed, or event, more important than the intent? and is it not an absurdity to say that someone with knowledge would do good maliciously? A third point may be raised: What of perfect knowledge? Does not the quality of omniscience confer (or perhaps infer) the quality of omnibenevolence?

I do not wish to place an actor’s intent above an action’s resulting event as a general rule. I wish, however, to point out that in some circumstances, intent is more important than event. If a murderer’s gun jammed, frustrating his intent to murder, that intent is obviously more important than the proceeding event. In the inverse case, it also seems obvious that should a man unintentionally commit homicide, even though his intent is considered, the event is more serious, but more serious regarding what?

It is more serious regarding his future actions, definitely. It makes little difference what his intent was if he will not gain knowledge by this accidental evil. We are considering here that he ignorantly acted, but that that action resulted in someone’s death. But contrasting the two, the accidental killing versus an ineffective intent to kill, do we not see that the intent is more deadly than the event when comparing these cases? Though the second man has killed where the first has not, it is the first man who seems the moral inferior. Furthermore, the first had greater knowledge, presumably, than the second as intent seems to imply knowledge.

I do not think that intent always trumps event, but I think there are cases where intent trumps event.

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