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(ReadWith) ThePyramidOfHate as an important parallel to this.

Interesting moral field. What about those actions which are OK if they happen infrequently, or in a small proportion of the population, but become harmful in quantity?

For example, most of modern consumerism is OK if we do a little bit. But if everyone does it, becomes environmentally destructive.

If I go into the forest and break a small branch to make a walking stick, that's fine. But if I go in and cut the whole forest down ... that is an eco-disaster.

Or drug taking which would be fine for a few researchers, but becomes damaging to society if everyone is off their heads?

Or competitive behaviour by a large corporation (I used MicroSoft when I wrote this but choose whichever megacorp fits) , which would be tough but acceptable from one of it's smaller rivals, but destructively distorts the market when done from this position of dominance?


  • a KantianEthics would restrict such actions, because I can't want them to be universal
  • VirtueEthics would be fine about them ... there's no harm to the particular character.
  • and UtilitarianEthics would do the calculation ... and posit a threshold.

But for the utilitarian, how should blame be apportioned if the group goes over the threshold? Does it all fall on the last actor, who pushed the total behaviour over the limit? Does it fall partly on earlier practitioners who would otherwise have been blameless?

What if everything is like this. Perhaps any action is harmful if performed in too large quantities. (This might be a big problem for Kantians?)

See Also :


Added 2018-07-17 : Originally Added 2018-06-06 : https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/who-me-they-warned-you-about-me

Quora Answer : Is it true that most businesses that become large are unethical?

Jul 4, 2018

Ethics itself has a quantitative component.

Let's say I go into the woods and break a small branch from a tree. Because I want to have a stick to throw for my dog.

No great harm done. And I'm not really doing anything "wrong" either.

Now suppose I go into the woods and break all the branches off all the trees. Now that's a major act of vandalism and perhaps death to the trees.

Acts themselves have a different moral value depending on the scale at which you commit them.

That is the problem with large corporations. Not that they automatically become "unethical". But that the acts they do at scale become destructive (and therefore "wrong") in a way that similar activities weren't when they were done at a smaller scale.