Here's Fred's original post:
In the following quote from Isaac Watts’s book “Improving the Mind”; he addresses how we should take into consideration all circumstances surrounding an action; the persons, the time, place, manner, the purpose, etc. He uses a great little illustration to make his point. Now please, dog lovers don’t be prejudiced by the first line….
Yet Mario might have escaped by flying thence; therefore the action appears to be improper. But the dog was known to be mad; this further circumstance makes it almost necessary that the dog should be slain, lest he might worry the assembly, and do much mischief.
Yet again, Mario killed him with a pistol, which he happened to have in his pocket since yesterday’s journey; now, hereby the whole congregation was terrified and discomposed, and Divine service was broken off, this carries an appearance of great indecency and impropriety in it: but, after all, when we consider a further circumstance, that Mario, being thus violently assaulted by a mad dog, had no way of escape, and had no other weapon about him, it seems to take away all the colors of impropriety, indecency, or unlawfulness, and to allow that the preservation of one or many lives will justify the act as wise and good.
Now, all these concurrent appendices of the action ought to be surveyed, in order to pronounce with justice and truth concerning it. There are a multitude of human actions in private life, in domestic affairs, in traffic, in civil government, in courts of justice, in schools of learning, etc. which have so many complicated circumstances, aspects, and situations, with regard to time and place, persons and things, that it is impossible for any one to pass a right judgment concerning them without entering into most of these circumstances, and surveying them extensively, and comparing and balancing them all rightly.”