The Jury Nullification Problem
I informed the judge that I had been at least peripherally involved in the academic controversy over whether people should be allowed to carry concealed firearms. When the judge asked if I would judge the case according to the law rather than according to my own moral beliefs, I replied (truthfully) that I would not. I was dismissed from that case, sent back to be reassigned and, since they apparently didn't need jurors for any other cases at that point, sent home.
On the one hand, I think my position was correct. Right and wrong are not made by acts of the legislature. I don't have an obligation to help other people defend their rights, but I surely ought not help cause someone to be punished for doing something that I believe he has a right to do.
On the other hand, I am not at all sure that the world would be a better place if my position on the general issue were more widely held. One can easily imagine a world where members of some unpopular group—homosexuals, say, or atheists—were routinely murdered, with the murderers getting off because at least one member of the jury approved of the murder and voted accordingly.
That would not happen if potential jury members who held such views announced them in advance, as I announced mine, and so did not end up on the jury trying that case. But although I chose to volunteer my views on the issue of concealed carry, I do not feel I was morally obliged to do so. I can imagine a more extreme case, one where someone was at risk of execution or life imprisonment for violating what I considered a clearly unjust law, where I would think the proper thing to do would be to conceal my view on the subject in order to get on the jury and there prevent the unjust outcome.
The situation feels paradoxical, since I am both approving of a moral view and suggesting that its widespread acceptance might have seriously bad consequences. But logically speaking, there is no inconsistency. I don't claim to derive my moral views from something like Kant's categorical imperative, some rule requiring that I support those rules that I would like everyone else to follow.
Even the apparent inconsistency depends on the level at which my view is described. If it is "one ought to act according to one's moral views even when they disagree with the law," there is a potential problem. But that problem comes from other people having moral views that I think mistaken. It is only correct moral views—I, of course, think my views are correct, which is what it means to say they are my views—that I think one ought to act according to.
Few people would consider it odd or paradoxical to say that people ought to act morally. But suppose someone believes that it is moral to kill atheists. Having said that I think people ought to act morally, must I also say that people ought to kill atheists? Clearly not. So a better way of stating the situation would be to say that, in my view, widespread acceptance of a single true statement might have bad consequences, as a result of the combined effect of that true statement and other untrue statements.
There is no reason why a statement cannot be both true and dangerous. Indeed, the preceding sentence is such a statement.