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Ends and Means

Discussion in 'Perspectives' started by masamune1, May 30, 2007.

  1. masamune1 Crouching Tiger

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    Do the ends justify the means, or are the means by which you do something more important?

    For example, let's say Saddam really did have stockpiles of WMD's, and was prepared to use them for his own ends. We had actual, iron-clad proof this time, and went in to stop him. However, Iraq would still be in the mess it's in today, because the political turmoils of he region were re-lighted by 9/ 11 and the Afghanistan invasion, and the Allies really did'nt have what it took to rebuild the country or deal with the insurgency.

    I have my own views on this, but firstly I'd like to hear what everyone else thinks (other examples would be welcome, too).
     
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  2. The Internet Banned

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    Depends how bad the means to reach the ends are.
     
  3. Gunners .

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    No I don't beleive the ends justifies the means. If the means will cause innocent people to suffer then I will not agree with it. Treating people has pawns.
     
  4. impersonal Banned

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    I think the end always justifies the means... If you don't accept this principle at least in some cases, then you cannot do anything at all. Which doesn't mean that people shouldn't be careful when deciding which means will be used.
     
  5. drache who's afraid ofa big bad wolf?

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    I think it depends, if you're talking about killing innocent people, breaking the law, thinking your above it all, then no.
     
  6. IBU Hopsecutioner

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    I agree mostly with what you are getting at. Personally, I don't feel that the ends always justify the means; however there are many situations where I feel that the means is a necessary evil. In general, if the negative that is created through the means is less than the positive created by the end being strived for, then it is all good. A very utilitarian notion, but I agree with it for the most part. However, I ultimately see such a calculation as epistemically unknowable, so I am much more opposed to imposition, just because of the issue of quantifiability. In an ideal world, where we could calculate such things, intervention in foreign affairs would be much more justifiable on a moral basis.
     
  7. Pilaf The Man in the Rain

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    "What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?" - Gandhi
     
  8. IBU Hopsecutioner

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    If genocide or some sort of other atrocity is occuring sometimes military action is necessary in order to preserve as much life as possible. Non-aggression is ideal, but ultimately this world is filled with too many assholes that get into power that pacifism can lead to greater death and destruction than military actions.
     
  9. Pilaf The Man in the Rain

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    Maybe this species doesn't deserve to thrive.
     
  10. IBU Hopsecutioner

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    Maybe we do not, but there is something to be said about the natural struggle for life and the law of non contradiction.

    And since when is justice or morality tit for tat?
     
  11. Pilaf The Man in the Rain

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    Well, I have to remain positive, idealistic and optimistic.

    I really do believe the ultimate solution for humanity is an utter lack of the need for fatal violence.

    That's the only sustainable future.

    The road there is long, winding and unpredictable. I think the only realistic way to approach this is a "defense only" violence.

    If everybody slowly one by one adopts a policy of "defend, not attack", then slowly wars will subside. Of course, first, the larger societal problems that contribute to wars must be addressed. Poverty, homelessness, religious and racial intolerance, greed....

    So many issues. So very many issues. And we're all just people, so we can only do so much ourselves.

    But wouldn't it be a shame to not even try?
     
  12. mislead it's just Che Guevara

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    Not for us to judge, that is.

    I really value pragmatism as a tool for solving difficult problems, so I'd probably agree with most cases of "ends justifying the means". As long as the means (the cost of a solution) are identified properly, and the method is good enough, that is. Moral utilitarianism, as pointed out by funkmasterswede, gives a pretty good rule of thumb, when difficult choices have to be made. In the end, it's a case of personal judgement most of the time anyway.

    There's also the matter of consistency though. If one employs questionable methods to solve a problem, they should be prepared for criticism and punishment on that account, even if the problem had been solved successfully.

    For example, if we look at the Iraq invasion, it becomes clear that the decision was horrible, even if Saddam posessed those infamous WMD. It brought America no gain whatsoever, only unnecessary lossess, both financial, military and diplomatic.
     
  13. IBU Hopsecutioner

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    I actually agree entirely. As somewhat of a social anarchist I see violence as a tactic that should be avoided, except for in the name of self defense. Ultimately why I support some international intervention is because of the societal issues that you speak of. Negative responsibility is compelling here. If a child is being drowned in a pool, shouldn't we assist the child if we can overcome this perpertrator? Ultimately violence should only be used from my perspective to defend one's self and those who cannot defend themself.
     
  14. Batman M.I.S.

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    Ask anyone truly in power and they will honestly lie and say that it does not.
     
  15. RemChu † No More Heroes †

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    God the whole situation reminds of nam..
     
  16. drache who's afraid ofa big bad wolf?

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    The probelm I have with the ends justifying the means is people start thinking it means they can do anything regardless of what it will do to others so long as they have good intentions.

    So then does that mean if you had to kill 1 child to save 1 million people from disease does the ends justify the means? And if it does, are you then okay with what you did or do you just do it and know that you're gonna have trouble living with yourself?

    Personally I would probably do it because in the end while the 'noble ideal' is to say no it's not realistic. However I would do so knowing that I'd probably hate myself for the choice and probably be incuring a lot of bad karma.

    I guess to me the more important questions is not if the ends justify the means but does the ends excuse us from the responsiblity of the means?
     
  17. neko-sennin AKA shadesmaclean

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    The more I thought about cause & effect, action and consequence, the more I've come to conclude that the means determines the end, regardless of original intent. Time moves on, and events continue to play out even after you have accomplished your immediate goal, so you must be prepared to live with all of the consequences of your methods, even the "unintended" ones. In order for a means to be truly justified-- not just rationalized for one's selfish, and often short-sighted, whims or wishful thinking-- it must not be self-defeating, but designed to account for and deal with the long-term results of one's actions.

    The end simply can't be separated from the means that achieved it.
     
  18. Sam I Am The Voice of Reason

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    In this particular instance I think the right thing to do is to stop Saddam. He's going to use them to kill people, you have to do something. Understand, however, that I would encourage means of combatting the threat that are correct.

    As far as the ends justifying the means, I think the ends do not justify the means. One must not only do right, one must also do right by the right means.

    Well said.
     
  19. masamune1 Crouching Tiger

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    That's similiar (though not identical to) my stance.

    I believe the ends do (or rather, can; this depends on the end) justify the means; the problem is that there is usually more than one end being met. This is true in even the simplest of situations- for example, you could kill in self defence. In itself it is a reasonable end(survival) achieved through a morally dubious means (killing), but one that could be justified (depending on the circumstances).
    However, other ends have been met. The person you killed may have had a family, or perhaps was not in their right mind. You also have to deal with the fact that you have just killed someone, and it may therefore be easier to do it again, in addition to other personal consequences of such an act.

    With regards to Iraq, it may be too early to identify all of the ends being achieved, as the issue is a complex one with many different factors. What is without doubt is that the means were not good enough to avoid a military disaster and a cultural backlash, regardless of whether removing Saddam was a good thing or not.

    To summarise, the end justify's the means, but the means can't always justify every end.
     
  20. Sam I Am The Voice of Reason

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    I don't know that he was commenting on that. I think he was just saying that he sees a connection between the ends and the means.
     
  21. masamune1 Crouching Tiger

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    Like I said, it was only similiar to my belief, not identical to it.
    Some parts of his argument resemble mine.
     
  22. Saria19 Non-intervening Vaizard

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    This is a good question, but there are so many Ifs, ands, and buts to consider. Sometimes the means seem to justify the ends, but there are always dissenters who declare that it should have been done differently, and many times they have valid points.

    An example of this could be to ask why we didn't just send a small team of assassins into Iraq and Afghanistan rather than the whole freakin military? With a few key assassinations, we could have quietly tried to reshape the government. But then what if there had been WMD's? The group wouldn't have been able to take care of those, the military would be far better equipped.

    So, as I've said before, it depends, and usually you can only decide after the ends is either met or within view (or the situation just drags on and on).
     
  23. AbnormallyNormal 1 + 2 + 3 = 1 * 2 * 3

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    the ends do justify the means, saying the means justify the ends is a cooler way to live though
     
  24. Yakushi Kabuto Socks Activate! Shape of a

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    Yes in fiction, no in real life. I am not opposed to the idea of fictious people being harmed for a purpose, but I cannot stand the idea of such a thing occuring when real lives are affected. Even if say, one person is hurt and a million are saved, I still cannot support any action that would involve that one person because every single life is of worth.
     
  25. AbnormallyNormal 1 + 2 + 3 = 1 * 2 * 3

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    yasha that makes no sense though. if you dont want to hurt anyone you're going to hurt everyone. some pain for more gain is the way life works
     
  26. drache who's afraid ofa big bad wolf?

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    Yet vengence is really a petty motive, if you're after justice that's much difference then vengence. Justice implies fair, impartial judgement, vengence is you pissed in my pool so I'm gonna piss in yours (to be crude)
     
  27. Seelas on a Forums Break

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    Think about what you just said for a bit.

    If every life is worth it, how do you think those million people you just condemned to death feel?

    To simply refuse judgment, to refuse to attach some sort of metric to the value of life, leads you to commit moral atrocities like the one you just endorsed. If it's life that you value, then what sort of bizarre reasoning are you using that leads you to conclude that you should pick the path that destroys more life?

    Sometimes, there are situations in which people have to get hurt. It's undesirable, of course, but you can't simply ignore them and act as though you're playing the moral high ground card by suspending judgment. Look at where it got you - you killed a million people. That's immoral in my book.
     
  28. drache who's afraid ofa big bad wolf?

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    That's justice you're talking about though not vengence. It's one thing to judge and punish, vengence though is personal and far from objective.
     
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