HOME   People do good because they are human, not because they are religious! 

Do not give God any credit for the good they do, they did it!

 

IS SECRET EVIL OKAY?

How often have people said that what people don’t know won’t hurt them? Is doing what is right usually condemned as wrong in secret right?

 

If secret evil is okay then it is not the evil that is the problem but the victim finding out they are a victim!

 

If secret evil is okay then it is okay to do harm as long as intend not to get caught or for the victim to learn of it.

So is secret evil morally neutral or even okay?  It is said, “Utilitarianism would seem to have to reply to this in the affirmative. Secret wrong makes you happy and hurts no one when done within reason and people should not worry about it after doing their best to stop it for worrying won’t do any good. Even Rule Utilitarians cannot condemn it. But maybe it will make people insecure? But that will happen if it happens or not.”

 

If it is okay then why is it even called evil!!!!

 

You are harmed by those who defraud you without your knowledge for it makes no sense to say that it is only finding out that hurts you. It is the action done to your disadvantage in the first place!  Some still treated you as a means to an end not as an end.  You were still degraded.
 
Some Rule Utilitarians forbid us to make any laws that allow torture for once the laws are made they will be overused. They say it is better to torture only when there is no alternative and when it can be done in secret. They say the torture of one terrorist for example to get information about where the bomb is that is going to kill thousands is justified if all other avenues are exhausted.
 
Secret evil can too easily go out of control for it is secret and nobody knows to what extent it is taking place and though a certain amount might be fine it is too dangerous and has to be forbidden totally. Utilitarianism can be reconciled with opposition to secret evil. Happiness is increased by knowing it is banned and that there are better things to do.

The risk of getting caught can be minimised or eliminated so nobody can tell you that secret evil is wrong for that reason. Then, the only thing you would have done wrong would have been not being careful enough. It would not mean the action was really bad. All actions involve risks anyway.
 
Some would say, “To indulge in secret injustice is betraying the trust of others and we should not be happy about it for if we are we will expand our dark side though we may have to wait a while to see what damage we have done ourselves. It is necessary to possess a strong and healthy revulsion for evil.”
 
This argument is a hoax because people can only rationally trust us most when they have their eye on us. A person proving their trust to you does not mean that they are as reliable behind your back because they are showing you what you can see not what you cannot see.

You can trust a person and still check them out for trust is not full certainty.

And why feel guilty when there is no proof that there is anything to be guilty about? Guilt is a useless emotion morally for morally we should be avoiding evil because it is evil and not because we dislike it.

Another form of the argument is, "If I do wrong in secret, I make myself bad and sneaky. I would know this even if others don't." It is really an attempt to make you feel awful about your secret evil and to judge yourself negatively without seeing your positive side.
 
But there is more to you than what you do in secret. What about people who do terrible things in public? Even some of them are not so bad.
 
Egoism seems to imply that secret stealing and the like are right as long as you are cautious. Slackness could even be justified as long as you get more happiness than sadness out of the whole state of affairs.

But the egoist should be happiest doing good things.

Secret evil may seem to be good for the one doing it. If the act is really meant to be good then why is it done in secret?
 
BOOKS CONSULTED
 
A HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY, VOL 6, PART II, KANT, Frederick Copleston SJ, Doubleday/Image, New York, 1964
CHRISTIANITY FOR THE TOUGH-MINDED, Ed John Warwick Montgomery, Bethany Fellowship Inc, Minneapolis, 1973
ETHICS, A C Ewing, Teach Yourself Books, English Universities Press Ltd, London, 1964
ETHICS IN A PERMISSIVE SOCIETY, William Barclay, Collins and Fontana, Glasgow, 1971
FREE TO DO RIGHT, David Field, IVP, London, 1973
MORAL PHILOSOPHY, Joseph Rickaby SJ, Stonyhurst Philosophy Series, Longmans, Green and Co, London, 1912
MORALITY, Bernard Williams, Pelican/Penguin, Middlesex, 1972
MORTAL QUESTIONS Thomas Nagel, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, London, 1979
NEW CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA, The Catholic University of America and the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., Washington, District of Columbia, 1967
PRACTICAL ETHICS, Peter Singer, Cambridge University Press, England, 1994
RUNAWAY WORLD, Michael Green, IVP, London, 1974
SITUATION ETHICS, Joseph Fletcher, SCM Press, London, 1966
SUMMA THEOLOGICA OF ST THOMAS AQUINAS, Part II, Second Number, Thomas Baker, London, 1918
THE PROBLEM OF RIGHT CONDUCT, Peter Green MA, Longmans Green and Co, London, 1957

The WEB

Roman Catholic Ethics: Three Approaches by Brian Berry
www.mcgill.pvt.k12.al.us/jerryd/ligouri/berry.htm