I am not an advocate of the “Great Man Theory”. But when I noticed in my daily eMail from the Encyclopedia Britannica folks that today is the anniversary of the birth of Sam Walton, it occurred to me to consider whether, if this man had not been born, the world would be a better place today?
The simplistic answer is a resounding YES. But that ignores the possibility that human society is robust and someone else could have started (the equivalent of) MalWart and that apparat might be more evil. It might also be less evil.
Since we can’t go back and conduct the experiment, it seems to be one of those gedanken experiments that are not very useful.
Of course, as Feynman observed, we may not be digging in quite far enough.