Which matters more… intention or effect?
Let us unravel some thoughts:
1. Do we have free will when it comes to intent?
Let us say I intend to help someone, but accidentally hurt them. For example, I want to help my friend by improving his website. But I accidentally break it, and cause him loss of revenue. If this is the case, am I at “fault” for fucking up his site? Yes. But then comes the question … should I be punished for fucking up his website? I don’t think so.
2. “I was just trying to help!”
Much harm has been caused by people trying to “do good”. For example, the Crusades which killed many innocent lives was done in “good faith” to help “save” these heathens. Or let us consider people who build stuff in poor villages in Africa — totally good intention, but the negative side consequence is that it can actually make their community dependent on outside intervention.
Or let us take for example people who try to “help” society by creating new ideologies and so forth. But unintentionally, many people die. Is the creator of the ideology to blame? Tricky — they are technically culpable, but I don’t believe they should be punished. In simple terms I believe that intent matters more than effect.