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Old 10-09-2017, 08:35 AM   #3
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default Re: Advice sought for fleshing out a major villian

Originally Posted by Michele View Post
So show your NPC do something like that. If he's into medical research, then an employee tells his something like: "Our orbital lab's report: they've found the means to prevent mutation LB-534. However, the economic analysis shows it's never going to pay, the treatment is exceedingly costly and the syndrome will only affect some 10,000 persons per year all over the world in the foreseeable future".
The boss: "OK, then let's drop it, tell them to research something profitable. Oh, and make sure our insurance companies screen for that mutation and refuse to cover potential subjects".
I'm not sure that I buy that decision as actually unethical. If you look past the profit motive, what's going on is that a company is deciding not to put a large number of resources into a product that only benefits a small number of people. Since those are resources of its pharmaceutical division (let's say), they are going to go instead into developing other products. Now, on one hand, given its criterion, those products are presumably going to benefit larger numbers of people, since there are larger target markets for them; on the other, since the eliminated product is "exceedingly costly," presumably the other products average less costly, and perhaps the company could even come up with three or four of them for the same cost as this one product, even further enhancing the disparity. So at least in this case the profit motive seems to point directly to "the greatest good of the greatest number." A total altruist, or a disinterested civil servant setting priorities for a state health care agency, could arrive at the same decision.

That's not to say it couldn't register as "amoral" in its effect on the audience's sentiments. But you seem to be aiming at a subtle and thus cerebral effect, one that emerges if the players think about it. It seems as if a casuistic approach to morality would work better than a sentimental one.

So what kinds of decisions could someone make in the pharmaceutical industry that maximized profits, but were actually indefensible in terms of service to the customers? How about having evidence that a product they've been working on could have really nasty long-term side effects, and ordering either that the study that found them be suppressed, or that a new study be conducted that's set up to avoid finding the same side effects? Oh, of course eventually it will come out, but by that time the company will have taken its profits, and our man in particular will have cashed out and retired, leaving the shareholders with the costs of any lawsuits? (So he not merely puts corporate gains ahead of service to the customers, but puts personal gains ahead of his duty to the shareholders.)
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
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