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Do the ends justify the means?

Discussion in 'House of Debates' started by RadicalActor, Apr 8, 2007.

  1. RadicalActor

    RadicalActor New Member

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    Is the nature of morality such that a good end can be achieved by questionable or even immoral means? Can we even consider the morality of the ends without considering the means used to achieve them?
     
  2. Freethinker

    Freethinker New Member

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    You are what you do.
    If you use immoral means ,YOU are immoral regardless of the result.
     
  3. Justinian

    Justinian New Member

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    Hmm

    This is almost comical to me because I personally coined a phrase today that fits perfectly with this idea. It is honest but not underhandedly innocent. A quote that reflects the harsh truths yet extraordinary wonders of life.


    "Violence is not the enemy of Good as it is not essentially the ally, component or tool of Evil." Paul Merring

    So the end can justify the means but this is the victim of judgement on a case by case basis, naturally.
     
  4. JavaBlack

    JavaBlack New Member

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    ...

    The ends may very well justify the means over time, but it is nonetheless a simplistic way of looking at things. It assumes that the turnout of ill-gotten gains will be for the better and that any morally decent way of attaining the end will fail. Those who propose that the ends justify the means fail to take into account how the means shape the ends.
    Look at all the conflict and hate that has been shaped by the poorly thought-out Cold War interventions of the West. We chose evil means and we shaped evil ends. When you use evil means, chances are you are not really thinking about all of the consequences.
     
  5. SW85

    SW85 New Member

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    What's the goal in any given case? Desirable ends, or proper means?
     
  6. vyo476

    vyo476 Active Member

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    Depends on the level of desperation and necessity. If something is greatly needed and the situation is desperate the means tend to matter a lot less than the end. If something is greatly needed but the situation isn't so desperate, the end is the still the goal but the nature of means plays a (somewhat diminished) role. You get the idea. As the desperation of the situation (ie, lack of resources, a nearby hostile enemy, etc) and the necessity of the end decrease, the importance of "proper" means increases.
     
  7. ArmChair General

    ArmChair General New Member

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    morality has less to do with the outcome that you choose, and more to do with the process that your brain takes to reach that outcome.
     
  8. SW85

    SW85 New Member

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    Then there ya' go.

    And yep, I do get the idea. I object to the whole "do the ends justify the means" proposition because most decisions are informed by a lot more factors than just (a) the end, and (b) the means.

    This is why I can comfortably say that, if the situation were desperate enough and I were in a position of political power, I would violate the Constitution in order to preserve the Constitution. (Of course I would then resign and accept whatever punishment is leveled at me).
     
  9. kobzikov

    kobzikov New Member

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    I think it might depend on those who have to suffer the means. If they agree that the ends justify the means, then it might be true, though the argument is based on subjectivity of morality.

    I would say that if any law must be violated to preserve it, then the law is not all that and a bag of chips to begin with and it would serve others better if it was changed.

    Consider the argument, what if to preserve the Constitution someone's human and civil rights must be violated? Now it's fine and good to accept the punishment for affecting someone that way, but does that remedy the violation of someone's rights? Besides don't you think this is a slippery slope argument? Is there violation of Constitution so egregious that you would not consider it no matter how desperate the situation? Or wouldn't your actions set a precedent for others with political power to engage in such actions, who might not be decent enough to resign and accept the punishment?

    I think some of the best examples of "do ends justify the means" question are Stalin's WWII orders 227 and 270, which created barrier troops composed of NKVD operatives, which were supposed to shoot the retreating troops and court-martial commanders who retreat wthout authorization. Now if the orders were the reason why Soviets were able to stop German offensive would anyone right now argue that the ends did not justify the means? However, those who were killed by the barrier troops would probably disagree with the conclusion if they weren't dead.
     
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