The statement in the title may seem straight-forward to answer but there’s lots to uncover:
It speaks of such desperation where a person thinks they have to steal, to ensure their family’s survival.
Since they have reached this point, It’s likely that no government or person is willing to bail them out so they resort to stealing.
Stealing is bad, but if it’s done in desperation, does it make it less bad? Upon this statement, would you consider them a bad person?
Do note that my aim is not to justify stealing but merely trying to open new perspectives into how we think.
Back to the question, maybe you want more context?
Depends on Who They Stole From?
Okay they did it in desperation, but maybe your answer depends on who they stole it from?
If this guy steals from a well off guy who’s relatively rich, would you think “well, it doesn’t matter he’s rich anyways” or still say “wrong is wrong, no matter, even if done in desperation”.
What if that person stole from someone like him who’s not doing good either, does that make him even worse than a “bad person” in the question?
He Chose the Lesser Bad?
The concerned person had to choose between being someone who can’t feed their family or a thief despised by the victims of thievery.
Does the person choosing the “lesser bad”, make them better than someone who can’t provide for their family?
In simple words, just like in politics when both candidates in an election aren’t the best, and you had to vote for one.
Don’t we find ourselves voting for the lesser bad option?
In the end, even if what we believe in is against our morals, we try to justify it with different reasons like explained above: desperation, who’s the victim etc.
I think, this makes such questions subjective as we all had different upbringings and are unique in how we see the world.
If you liked this post, you may be interested in another post like Profiting from Shortage of Supplies Ethical? or the reasons on How we justify Wrong things, especially if done in Desperation.