Moral Dilemma while Issuing Viruses with Good Intentions


There are many types of viruses that enter one’s system through internet surfing. Mostly worms and Trojan horses are considered the key viruses which are quite popular. We will start out by first defining the key terms and then talk about the moral issues associated with them.

Defining the Key Terms

Worms and Trojan horses are malicious computer programs whose aim is to damage one’s a computer or network. They also seek to steal an individual’s personal information. Ferbrache (2012) defines a worm as a standalone program that usually replicates itself in order to spread to other computers sharing a network. A worm does not need a host file; rather, it gains access into a computer by exploiting available vulnerabilities or tricking a user to execute it.

Once a worm is executed, it uses the information transport system to spread to other computers in the network. Worms cause damage to one’s computer and interfere with its normal operation. It can also make numerous copies of itself and email itself to addresses on one’s contact list. On the other hand, a Trojan horse is a program that conceals its real purpose. 

Trojans disguise themselves as useful programs. Unlike worms, Trojan horses are non-replicating and spread due to user action. Malicious virus creators use Trojan horses to deceive people into installing viruses.  They are usually sent as email attachments; they can also be downloaded from the internet.

In the next section, Help in Homework tries to explain whether the release of the worm/Trojan horse even for good condition is not justifiable. We will go over this section one by one for both the moral thoughts of schools.

Is One’s release of a worm morally justifiable according to Kantian ethics?

Here, we take Kantian ethical approach and try to discuss whether it will be justifiable to release a worm if it’s meant for good intentions. According to Kantian ethics, One’s release of the worm is morally wrong.  According to Kantian ethics, the morality of an action is determined by the motive behind it and not the consequences. In this respect, even if one intended good with his action, the mere fact the release of a worm is wrong makes the whole action morally wrong according to Kantian ethics. 

The worth of a motive is realized by analyzing whether the motive of the action can be applied in a universal maxim. This is based on the assumption that the reason remains the same at all times across different people. This means that morality should be universal. Therefore, according to Kantian ethics, an action is considered moral only when it embodies a maxim that can be turned into a universal law. One’s action cannot be accepted universally, which makes his actions morally unjustifiable regardless of how positive the end result would have been. Kantian ethics are duty-based and pose that people should always strive to do what is right, as it is the right thing to do.

In addition, people should avoid doing the wrong things because they are wrong. Thus, under this kind of ethics, one cannot justify his/her actions by claiming that they produced good consequences (some actions are right or wrong in themselves irrespective of their end-result). In this regard, Kantian ethics is termed as non-consequentialist. As such, one’s action was wrong because someone who follows Kantian ethics should always do the right thing even when it leads to more harm.

Is one’s release of a worm would be morally justifiable according to Utilitarian ethics. 

Unlike Kantian ethics, Utilitarian ethics is consequentialistic. This means that utilitarianism does not give emphasis on the motives behind an action but it looks at the result of an action. Therefore, according to a report by Assignment Help, an action is morally right if it leads to more good results than bad. In the case of the release of the worm, to determine whether his actions were justifiable, one needs to analyze whether his actions to release the worm did more good than bad.

In this analysis, his motive to see how many computers would be infected is irrelevant. Due to the damages the worm caused, it can be said that his actions were unethical. However, it can also be argued that his actions were ethical. One can argue that his actions made many people realize that the internet could be used to cause harm.

This made them pay more attention to developing better internet security systems which is a good thing. To analyze whether his actions were wrong, one has to weigh the damages caused against benefits realized by alerting people of the dangers of the internet. In my opinion, I think his actions were morally justifiable as they helped create more awareness of the need to improve internet security. His actions could have prevented a more damaging virus release by another person.

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