Author Topic: The end justifies the means- or does it?  (Read 2438 times)

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silversun

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The end justifies the means- or does it?
« on: February 20, 2011, 06:58:14 PM »
Kind of curious what you all think about this well-known adage. I myself believe it's false- if there is a justifiable end, there will be a justifiable means to it. In other words, where there's a will there's a way. I've heard several others disputing this, however- and I'm surprised what people can shrug off with this adage.

Do you agree, and why/why not? 

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Merlandese

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Re: The end justifies the means- or does it?
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2011, 08:06:24 PM »
... if there is a justifiable end, there will be a justifiable means to it. In other words, where there's a will there's a way.

Hmmm... I'm not sure what you mean by the connection to "where there's a will, there's a way." That saying seems to have a neutral stance on "justice." I mean, if you have the willpower to get to an end, any path (or "way") could open up, not just the most pleasant one.

And there's also an adage in opposition to "the end justifies the means." One could say "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." In that case, the end is harmful, whereas the path there was never meant to be. I imagine that if someone can have the "right" thing lead to a "wrong" end, the reverse could also hold true; "wrong" things can lead to "right" ends.

silversun

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Re: The end justifies the means- or does it?
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2011, 09:56:07 PM »
Hmmm... I'm not sure what you mean by the connection to "where there's a will, there's a way." That saying seems to have a neutral stance on "justice." I mean, if you have the willpower to get to an end, any path (or "way") could open up, not just the most pleasant one.
I meant, where there's a will to do a certain thing without harming someone else, there should be a way to do it.


As to the rest of your post, I agree it's possible to achieve right by doing wrong, but does one have the right to?

Take Hiroshima. The end of WW2 was undoubtably a good thing, yet the killing of 90,000–140,000 innocents was undoubtably bad. Did the US have the right to kill babies, children, women, innocents simply to achieve that "end"?

Hitler, too, had a good end- raising Germany out of its depression state. Was the killing of six million Jews, Roma, and other miniorities worth that?

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Re: The end justifies the means- or does it?
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2011, 10:01:50 PM »
There's a matter of perspective involved: Whose end is the action trying to  benefit? And who does the mean affect? Usually, those are two entirely different groups of people (which is also the case for both of those WW2 examples). It then becomes less of a "could the end justifies the means" moral question, and more like "sacrifice others for our own benefits / every man for himself".