Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesPhilosophy · 1 decade ago

Do the ends, justify the means?

Think on situations, often something bad can be done, which may end in something good. Does this make it right?

Do the ends, justify the means?

If you believe they do, then why?

If you don't, then why not?

14 Answers

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The ends, justify the means only if other options are not availiable.

    Sometimes, people just choose the easy way and the not the best way. Therefore, create unnecessary pain and suffering.

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  • 4 years ago

    If the ends must justify the means then the means must be unjustified to begin with. Since there is no way to know with certainty whether the means will achieve the ends, something can always go wrong, it is better to stay within ethical boundaries. You can't build a common good through a private evil.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The eternally unanswerable question in philosophy. One may may try to quantify this question by asking... "does the benefit of the end outweigh the harm caused by the means?" The answer to this question should provide answer this question to the one observer. Of course, other observers will have different perspectives when making a judgment on the severity of the means and the benefit of the ends.

    So the question can be easily answered when only one person must make the decision (such as, "should I break up with my girlfriend?"). For decisions that affect large numbers of people (such as, "should we go to war?"), then the collective judgment of the policy makers in government must apply the same test of comparing the severity of the means against the benefit of the ends.

    Unfortunately, the judgment of both individuals and policy makers as a group are fallible. So we can only truly know the answer to this means vs ends question AFTER a decision has been made and we can observe the impact.

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  • 1 decade ago

    NO. If they did then none of us would have any right to condemn Hitler. After all the end he was looking for is justifiable by how he did it. He wanted power, he got his power. How can anyone justify the means by which he gained his power?

    Granted that's a large example to put forth but then this kind of thing happens all over the earth in small matters and given the ability to do so ......these people who justify their means for the ends they have gained in the small things? What the hell would they do if they had the means to accomplish the large things that affect people like you and I?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I believe it depends on the interpretation of the act. The winners write history and justify the means used to achieve a successful end.

    For example, if a group of thieves pulls off a successful diamond heist and they walk away with 100 million dollars, move to Brazil, and live in the sun for the rest of their lives, then yes, to them, the ends justifies the means. To them, the fact that they may have cost many other people a livelihood has nothing to do with it.

    However, if they same group gets caught, then those who caught them will say that end itself and the means employed during the robbery were wrong.

    Another example: A guy sets up a coworker, planting false, damning documents in the coworker's desk, then notifies the boss of the documents. Coworker gets fired and the guy gets the coworker's higher-paying job. When the guy's family is able to move from their cramped apartment to a bigger home and the guy is able to put away money into his children's college funds, then, for him, the ends definitely justified the means.

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  • Don C
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    "do the ends justify the means" is a gross oversimplification of a complex philosophical question.

    if a philosophical 'school' suggest that the 'rightness' or 'wrongness' of an ethical choice should be based on the outcome AND the 'qualities' of that desired outcome are well defined (utilitarianism for example)

    THEN "the end justifies the means" To discuss this question without examining the 'precepts' is folly.

    your question might be more 'profound' if you asked

    "what is the greatest amount of good as discussed by j.s.mill in ON LIMITS OF LIBERTY?"

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  • YD
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    This is just a play on words.

    Any action has to result in an end ( result) . People , genarally , act to achieve a certain end result. It happens , many times, that as we act and the results are NOT forthcoming we change our action , mid course , deviating from our original thought our action ( means) . if , then , the end result is achieved we gloat over our (changed) means that got the desired end .

    For some , who donot deviate from their norms to achieve the result , this will not apply.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's not a yes/no question.

    All action SHOULD be 'justified' by what it gets you.

    You should TRY to make your ends justify your means.

    But the bottom line is sometimes they won't.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It depends on the ends and the means!! Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    A "yes" answer justifies tyranny.

    The correct answer is "no."

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