Do the ends justify the means?
Everyone has an opinion on this, and I'd like to hear what they are. Suppose killing one innocent could save 2, or 10 or 100 more. Is it worth it? DO the ends justify the means? Why or why not?
- 1 decade agoFavorite Answer
So, if the ends do justify the means, an innocent man could walk into the hospital and be killed for his organs. His organs, after all, could save multiple people who have been waiting for an organ donor. I think that most people, including myself, will argue that that is unjust, and even Machiavelli would likely shudder at that too.
If you're interested in this "ends justifying the means" stuff, you should definitely Wikipedia the Moscow theater hostage situation that occured in 2002, or maybe you remember what happened with that. (Wikipedia can describe it better than me.) It was on the news for days, and I just think that it's a perfect example of where one must wonder whether the ends justify the means. I think that in this case, the ends do justify the means, but it is even hard for me to say that with certainty because plenty of hostages died this way; maybe the Chechens would have let most of the hostages go free in the end ... similar to the Budyonnovsk hospital hostage situation (although plenty of people died in that one too).
I don't think that there is a black & white answer to your question. It probably depends on the situation and how harsh the possible consequences could be.
- 1 decade ago
Not sure what you mean by innocent. If a person is innocent then they would not be in a position that would make it nesecary to take them out. If innocent you mean like going back and killing a young Hitler I would think that in this case that the ends would justify the means. But, if you mean killing a german citizen that had nothing to do with the war,hitler,killing jews,gypsy's and the others then no I do not see how that innocent german could have any bearing on the course taken by someone else.
- eckzlLv 41 decade ago
It depends. If you had to actively kill that one person to save the rest, then it is wrong, but if by saving the rest, the one's death is a by-product, (like pulling the lever to switch the train tracks towards the one rather than the others) then that does justify the end result.
Look up the doctrine of double effect.
- kaceyLv 51 decade ago
I'm a utilitarian. If someone captured me and 99 other people and told me he would kill all of us if I didn't shoot one of my group, I'd take the gun. 99 people alive, or 0? I think high-in-the-sky morals are great, until (as they say) "the sh*t hits the fan." We live on planet earth. Oftentimes, our actions will hurt someone no matter what we do. It's up to us to judge which action is wisest.
But focusing on the end result too much prevents us from living in the moment, I think. We have to make our decisions based on the here-and-now, not just on what we hope will happen. So it's a balance.
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- MyPreshusLv 71 decade ago
John Travolta's character asked that question in Swordfish. (He was a madman.)
No one has the right to make the decision as to who lives or dies. What difference does it make if 10 or 100 or more live if an innocent person was killed. That's barbarianism.
- RBLv 71 decade ago
Murder, is sin. Sin doesn't justify anything. The ends do not justify the means.