A Cre8asite Forum thread has a nice deep discussion around the use of black hat SEO techniques while being a so called "white hat."
The question at hand is can a white hat SEO use some black hat tactics and still call themselves a white hat SEO?
As the conversation went on, the discussion went into definitions, as you can imagine.
What is black hat? Is it hacking? Is it stealing? Is it just using automated tools? Is it buying links? Writing a ton of content that isn't quality?
At the same time, some say that learning from black hats make you a better white hat SEO. Moderator, iamlost, said they are "pushing the envelope" and you can learn from that. But is it the black hat who is "pushing the envelope" or just the savvy marketers? Some black hats don't do anything smart, but rather use brute force. While others think up new techniques that can often not be classified as black hat at all and thus maybe they aren't black hat.
As you can see, the discussion gets into many areas, as do most of these type of threads.
Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forum.
Image credit via ShutterStock for white/black hat.