In actuality, any crime has its causes, which lie not only in the material but also in the moral domain. What is meant here is the fact that any crime is closely intertwined with ethics and has its own ethical background. At this point, it is possible to refer to the murder of Lois Murphy, who was killed by William Tanner. This case reveals multiple ethical issues that arise in the context of the crime, when its causes are analyzed in details because the crime committed by Tanner can be justified, under certain circumstances, and condemned, under others.
First of all, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the unpaid debt for drugs was the cause of the crime. William Tanner committed the crime because he was conscious of the fact that he has the right to take his money back. On the other hand, Lois Murphy provoked the crime because she apparently refused to pay the debt back. In such a way, she was conscious of the fact that her behavior contradicted to principles of fair agreement, when one party borrows money to another one expecting for the return of the money back in the set time. Therefore, the crime is motivated by the intention of the offender to take his money back. At this point, it is possible to justify the murder committed by William Tanner because he has the right to return his money and Lois had to pay off the debt.
However, it is also obvious that the way William chose to return his money back was absolutely wrong because he failed to return his money back and he killed Lois that was definitely wrong from any standpoint. Nevertheless, he could have killed her occasionally. Probably, he just attempted to frighten Lois to make her to pay off his debt but he underestimated his physical force and killed the victim.
On the other hand, the Lois Murphy borrowed money to buy drugs. In such a context, William Tanner was responsible for the deterioration of Lois’ health because he provided her with money to buy drugs, which have a negative impact on her health. Obviously, William Tanner had started to act wrong since the time he had borrowed money to the victim. In fact, he pushed Lois to buying drugs because, if she had not had the money, she would have not taken drugs anymore or she could look for the medical aid to solve her problem. In other words, if William Tanner did not borrow her money, Lois Murphy could start treatment of her drug addiction and look for assistance.
In addition, William Tanner should be aware that the drug addict could not return his money. What is meant here is the fact that William Tanner should understand that drug addiction is a serious health problem and drug addict could not earn money to pay off her debt. At any rate, William Tanner should think carefully before borrowing money to Lois Murphy.
Moreover, Lois could have no money to pay her debt back. As it has been just mentioned above, Lois could fail to earn as much money as she needed to buy drugs and she asked William to borrow her some money. She could not earn this money and apparently no one was ready to borrow her money but William.
Therefore, William should be aware of the fact that the money he borrowed to Lois was lost. Nevertheless, he insisted on the return of his debt, although the victim could not physically do it without the assistance from health care professionals, her relatives or other people, who could solve her problem first. To put it in simple words, Lois needed to cope with her drug addiction first to be able to pay off her debt to William.
Therefore, instead of borrowing money for buying drugs, William could borrow money for treatment of Lois or help her to participate in a rehabilitation program. In such a situation, William would increase substantially the probability of returning his money. First, if Lois coped with her addiction, she could start working and earning money she could save to pay off her debt. Second, William would just do a good deed helping Lois to recover from her addiction. Instead, he failed to help her but killed her.
Obviously, it is possible to view the murder of Lois from two different perspectives. On the one hand, William Tanner wanted his money back and was reasonable in his demands but he underestimated his physical force and occasionally killed Lois Murphy. On the other hand, he should use the legal means to return his money. In addition, the murder was absolutely unfair because Lois could have no money to pay off her debt, whereas William could help his victim instead of murdering her. What is meant here is the fact that he could give her money to recover instead of to buy drugs.
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Rand, Ayn. (1964). The Virtue of Selfishness. Signet.
Waller, Bruce, N. (2005). “Egoism.” In Consider Ethics: Theory, Readings, and Contemporary Issues. New York: Pearson Longman, 79–83.