Do the ends really justify the means?:

Total posts: [63]
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I keep hearing that the ends don't justify the emans as well as the other way around but do the ends really justify the means?
It depends on what the ends and the means are, I suppose.
3 Alichains14th May 2011 10:31:15 AM from Street of Dreams , Relationship Status: Sinking with my ship
Of course not. Emans are an end to themselves.
4 Usht14th May 2011 10:32:44 AM from an arbitrary view point.
Lv. 3 Genasi Wizard
Depends on how you value what you gained and lost, I suppose. Like for WWII, if looked from a purely monetary point of view, the end definitely justify the means for the US. Looked at from a moral view of what the Nazis were doing, ends justify the means again. Considering the lives lost in the conflict? American lives and Japanese civilians from the nuking may mean that it's not justified. All depends on point of view.
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5 del_diablo14th May 2011 10:36:58 AM from Somewher in mid Norway
Den harde nordmann
Well, the ends justify the means.
HOWEVER, the problem is that when you see "th ends justify the means" in fiction they have gotten to the point where it they can not actually reach the goal, or reaching a minor compromise would have done better results.
That means that they have reached the point where the end can not be attained, but they are still fooling themselves.
The ends justify the means IF the end can be reached.
Another thing to note: If the means end up being something that is against the goal, it should not be done. If the goal is life, then killing will more or less be against it, genocide would be breaking it.
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6 Kino14th May 2011 11:27:19 AM , Relationship Status: Californicating
It depends on the situation, means, and result.
7 Madrugada14th May 2011 11:40:17 AM , Relationship Status: In season
It's completely dependent on what the ends and the means are, and whether those particular means were the only way to achieve that end.
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8 Enthryn14th May 2011 12:03:59 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
I believe that the ends justify the means — and in fact are the only thing that can justify the means — provided that one considers all ends. That is, the right course of action is determined solely by the expected consequences of that action. You can't just look at one particular outcome you want, though; the judgment has to take into account all ends, all consequences, whether intended, incidental, or unintended.

Some means can, by their very nature, include undesirable ends. Such means ought not to be discounted automatically, though, since it could still be the best option in some cases.

edited 14th May '11 12:06:09 PM by Enthryn

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9 honorius14th May 2011 12:32:26 PM from The Netherlands
The end would justify the means if you can make a nice calculation of the costs and the gains. Sadly you can't do that on a large scale in real life and most of the time not on a small scale either. People will also have different opinions on which value is more important than the other and what the best way is to achieve the goal. l

edited 14th May '11 12:32:37 PM by honorius

If any question why we died/
Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
You can only have the ends justify the means if you already know what both are, and can weigh a cost/benefit analysis for both.

Also, Machiavelli never said that.
11 Enthryn14th May 2011 12:39:19 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
It's often difficult to make a precise assessment of consequences and possible courses of action, but you can work around your incomplete knowledge while still trying to get the best possible outcome. My point is that the consequences, not the nature of the action itself, should be the ultimate consideration.

Of course, this requires a way of determining which consequences are good. For this, I think it's best to just use people's own views as the measure; that is, instead of trying to define some universal concept of "pleasure" or "happiness", just consider what each individual wants and try to satisfy the most people to the greatest degree.

edited 14th May '11 12:42:07 PM by Enthryn

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12 honorius14th May 2011 12:58:00 PM from The Netherlands
The consequences always define the morality of the action. Is pulling the trigger on a gun a bad action? Not if you're target shooting, you will only hit a target. If you're aiming the gun at a human, it is, because you'll kill or hurt someone.
If any question why we died/
Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
13 Enthryn14th May 2011 01:12:46 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
[up] Right, and going even further, killing or hurting someone isn't inherently wrong; it's wrong because people have a strong desire not to be hurt or killed themselves or to have the same happen to people they care about. However, in some exceptional circumstances, it can be necessary to prevent greater harm (e.g., injuring someone in self-defense).
Prendre le bien, le mal et sans trier, accepter
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14 honorius14th May 2011 01:14:57 PM from The Netherlands
Yeah. Which goes back to The Golden Rule.

edit: its also why I view euthanasia as morally correct. Ending someones life isn't inherently wrong, it is because the person don't wants his life to be ended. If the patient wants it to be ended, killing him/her stops being wrong.

edited 14th May '11 1:18:40 PM by honorius

If any question why we died/
Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
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"Do unto others as they would do unto you. But do it first and harder." (backtranslated from the French version)

edited 14th May '11 1:20:15 PM by Medinoc

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16 honorius14th May 2011 02:22:02 PM from The Netherlands
but that would be an infinite regress
If any question why we died/
Tell them, because our fathers lied -Rudyard Kipling
17 joeyjojo14th May 2011 02:45:32 PM from South Sydney: go the bunnies!
Happy New Year!
@OP: most people would disagree with such an hardline but IMHO the answer is a firm no
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The end does not justify the means.

As it is only said when the means need a justification. Indicating they are not justified in and of them selves. In other words: You only need a justification if there's something wrong with what you are doing in the first place.

Of course, one could posit that when the benefit from the end far outweighs the moral impact of the means this implies justification. Fine; justified it is. Less wrong? Nope.

Personally I'm of the opinion that if you need to JUSTIFY something, then there is something seriously wrong.
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20 Deboss14th May 2011 02:59:55 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
It's a bad argument setting up a False Dichotomy instead of doing the proper thing and setting up a cost/benefit analysis.
21 Enthryn14th May 2011 03:07:31 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
[up][up][up], [up][up] Huh? By "justification", I just mean a line of reasoning that explains why an action is morally right. You should have a justification for everything you do, otherwise there's no reason to do it.

Also, how can the means be "justified in and of them selves"? To say that something is justified implies that it is deemed right by an ethical system, that is, the ethical system provides a justification for it. It's nonsensical to say that needing a justification implies that something is wrong with what you're doing.

Of course, I'm not talking about a selfish sort of justification that people use to convince themselves that a wrong action is right. Those lines of reasoning ignore relevant consequences by their very nature, and so they're not a complete analysis. Perhaps I should say that an action should have a proper justification that uses sound reasoning and doesn't omit relevant factors.

How could an action possibly be justified in this sense, but still "wrong"?

edited 14th May '11 3:07:55 PM by Enthryn

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[up] Because you're conflating justification as "explaining why this is right" with "explaining why I/we/they should be allowed to do this"

And again, one does not go looking for a justification when what one does is 'right' as, per your own words, a justification (should) already exist then.
23 Enthryn14th May 2011 03:28:44 PM , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
How are those two different? Also, you don't just know automatically what's right and what's not. Sometimes it's unclear, in which case you should look carefully at which course of action is justified. (I think we agree that picking an action first, then trying to find a justification for it no matter what, is completely the wrong way to go about it.)
Prendre le bien, le mal et sans trier, accepter
Sans couvrir tes yeux, tout regarder.
Because, in my view, there can be situations where an action should be allowed (is justified), but is still wrong. Take the ubiquitous example of the man stealing a bread to feed his starving children. Stealing is wrong. Feeding his children makes it justified, but still wrong.

What I would like from that man's moral compass is to say "What I did was wrong, but I had to". Rather than "it is OK, as I needed it bad enough".
Nihilist Hippie
No action is right or wrong in and of itself IMO. Morality is fiction. Abstract ethical principles are comforting religious ideas. There are no moral facts.
"Had Mother Nature been a real parent, she would have been in jail for child abuse and murder." -Nick Bostrom

Total posts: 63
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