Are face-attacking strategies inherently unethical, or might it be appropriate to use them in certain situations? Identify such situations. Is verbal aggressiveness unethical?  

An inherently unethical act may still be appropriate in certain situations when it is necessary to avoid greater harm. An aggressive face-attack against a fraudster seeking to cheat people would, for instance, be justifiable.

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It is possible for a strategy to be inherently unethical and still appropriate for use in certain situations. Lying and theft are inherently unethical, but one might countenance either in pursuit of a greater good, such as saving a life. Various thought experiments proposed in the wake of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks involved thinking about situations in which it might be justifiable to torture a terrorism suspect. Many lawyers and philosophers expressed the view that it would be right to torture someone to extract operational knowledge which might save the lives of thousands of other people.

There is a presumption that ad hominem attacks are not ethically justified, but this presumption can be rebutted in a case where someone is using a good reputation to harm others. If a fraudster uses his/her credibility to steal money from people, it is clearly appropriate to attack his/her reputation in order to save those people from harm. One might make a similar case in situations where the harm is less direct. If someone makes a spurious case on an environmental or scientific topic and backs it up by claiming excellent scientific credentials and qualifications, it would be fair to attack the reputation of the person in question to prevent him/her from influencing public policy in a harmful direction. In such a case, verbal aggression would be ethical.

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