Is he or is he not? Does the society accept him/her like that? This question came up to my mind when my father mentioned about a professional killer whose nickname was The Iceman.

Normal life means trying to be good for their offspring , wife, family, neighbors.. but just not good when he/she for example might be a serial killer. Could such person be good or bad? Should I consider motives of this person?

PS. Don't know what about the tags.. could you please help me with them. Thank you in advance.

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    You can save lives in your day job because it's your day job, but being a "murderer in normal life" suggests malevolent intent. If intention is important in moral assessment, then that would lean towards bad. I think we'd need you to elaborate a bit on your idea of "normal life", though, because it kinda risks begging the question. If you're assuming that he's "normally" a murderer, rather than "normally" a doctor, then you've probably already made your mind up!
    – Paul Ross
    Feb 19, 2019 at 8:09
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    Possible duplicate of Are there any non-divine objective standards of good/evil?
    – Bread
    Feb 19, 2019 at 10:26
  • You mean like Harold Shipman? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Shipman
    – Neil
    Feb 19, 2019 at 13:07
  • Ted Bundy volunteered at Seattle’s Suicide Hotline Crisis center, and wrote a rape prevention pamphlet. Was he good or evil? Feb 19, 2019 at 14:13
  • The easiest way to avoid the conundrum is to judge people as good as their worst traits. A murderer is a bad person regardless of what else they do.
    – Cell
    Feb 19, 2019 at 15:33

2 Answers 2


'Good man' is a comprehensive, all things considered judgement or assessment. I'm not sure that this is possible on the slender data supplied.

Suppose the doctor saved a great many lives in his professional capacity, but only because as a member of a team he could not avoid doing so (he would much rather have let the patients die or actually killed them) and his murders inflict suffering for his/ her personal pleasure. This is hardly the picture of a good man.

But the situation could be different. The doctor might be totally dedicated to saving the lives of patients wherever possible and murder purely when he morally considered mercy killing to be justified or even required in the interests of alleviating suffering. It would not be totally implausible to describe such a doctor as a good man. (He might have an erroneous conscience in the case of mercy killing but that bare fact would not make him a bad man. There is moral virtue in following one's conscience.)

So I think the judgement swings one way or another depending on the circumstances : 'circumstances alter cases'. We would need more data about the doctor than the question provides.


Let's say this man saved 100 lives as a doctor, and murdered three people. It would be tempting to say "society is 97 lives ahead, so he is a good man."

But that is wrong. If he didn't work as a doctor, someone else would have done his job, and those 100 lives would have been saved anyway. And the doctor is paid to save lives, the taxpayers that fund him have just as much to do with the saving of lives as he does. He doesn't save lives to be a good person, he saves them because that's his job. I know a car mechanic who saved the lives of hundreds of cars. There is no reason why you would think the doctor is a better person than the car mechanic.

So no, he is just evil and nothing else.

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