I found the first question quite interesting as it related to a few topics that I discussed in my Ethics class of junior year. When is something morally justifiable? And, is a bad deed moral if it leads to the greater good? Obviously Admiral William Hall would argue that not telling President Woodrow Wilson about the United States’ potential danger in order to pull the wool over Germany’s eyes was ethical. He was focused on the greater good. This most closely follows consequentialism; the idea that the morality of an action lies in the consequences it bears. I have always disagreed with the ideas of consequentialism. To be completely frank, I think they are a bit ridiculous.
The results of an action are extremely important in determining the morality of the deed, however the results are not everything. An action can, in itself, be ethical or unethical. Certain things, at least in my opinion, are never up for debate. For instance murder is always unethical. Even if something good came from murder, the action would never be moral. Who are we to decide the value of a life? William Hall clearly had no issue valuing human lives. He saw– what could have been– death and destruction and found that potential outcome of his actions to outweigh the more probable consequences. In the end, his decision paid off. However, the decision he made, although great, will never be ethical.