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Philosophy: The end justifies the means???

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by hornet, Dec 21, 2007.

  1. Just in time for the Christmas Break, and some idle time for some of us, let's discuss.....

    Macbeth in Shakespeare's play of the same name, pondered the gain (being King) against the possible impacts as he geed himself up to kill Duncan. He couldn't decide if the end justified the means.

    If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly. If the assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
    With his surcease success; that but this blow
    5 Might be the be-all and the end-all here,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We'd jump the life to come.

    Of course, in the end, the play shows us that it didn't, but are there circumstances when it does?????
  2. For most ends, there are means that don't NEED justifying.
  3. Paul,
    If someone does anything illegal, immoral, unethical or just plain dodgy to achieve personal gain then they can rot in hell as far as I am concerned.
  4. Hornet you have put three interesting points into the one post...
    1) Can the ends justify the means?
    2) Is personal gain as an end able justify the means where the means is murder?
    3) Is the Shakesperian portrayal of Macbeth in any way accruate?

    1) Yes it can. If you see someone about to gun donw many inocent victems put a bullet it him. It is Murder, but sacrafice your own morals for teh lives of many. don't feel happy about it, but accept that the ends justifies it. this of course leaves a very greay area of where you draw the line. And this is why we need laws, because taking the law into your own hands means teh bending of ideals all through this greay area.
    2) No. taking a life to stop loss is one thing, but taking a life for personal gain is unjustifyable.
    3) Apparently the answer is no. apparently there is no evidence to support that he murdered Donnchad (Duncan) but in fact that Duncan was killed in battle (Yes against an Army of Macbeth (in a battle initiated by Donnchad )).
  5. Points taken, although I wasn't suggesting that the story of Macbeth was anything other than a story :).
  6. Hey I wasn't having a go. I think using Macbeth as a point ofd reference is interesting... It was means for personal gain in the Macbeth story, and that is very diferent from means to what you see as the end of the greater good.

    And if we were to take the macbeth link further...
    Why was Banquo placed there as an inocent individule? why was the scene of the three witches describing how his line would go on as a line of kings till the crack of doom?

    The telling of teh story as done by Shakespere was done with the royalty of the time in mind. The royal house of the time was decended from Banquo, this whole element of the story was Shakspere getting himself in with the arastocracy. And in doing so has bent the accepted history for ever more... did the means justify the ends?
  7. sometimes :)
  8. short answer is it depends on the end and the means, as pointed out by FL.
    If you want to take a step back and pretend to be a third person observer, the end will justify the means when and only when the cost to society of the means is less than the gains made by the end. The debate then comes in as how to measure means and ends. It's diffefent to every person, and is of course heavily subjected to bias. You'll never get a universal answer to the OP, and if you try you'll only get "but's, what-if's and why not's". It's very specific to the situation.

    Its interesting to see someone do something believing that the end justify the means, based on all available evidence to them at that time, to only see in hindsight that it did not. This is an easy question for a third person non-biased observer, but life gets in the way of such decisions for the ordinary citizen.
  9. I think it's a catchy statement that people apply incorrectly to lots of things.

    "Does the end justify the means?"

    May be a question that's part of a decision process, but really it should be:

    "Is the outcome or result worth what I am investing in the process to achieve it?"

    ... and that depends entirely on specifically what the result is, and what the investment is.

    But I presume we are applying this in modern times but in the same spirit as Macbeth: still, let's rephrase it anyway:
    "Is a right worth a few wrongs to get there?"

    It can be, and it may also not be: which is entirely subject to individual judgement based on moral code where law does not already apply.

    ... what Joel said.
  10. You've caught the general intention of the statement; it is usually applied (as in the Macbeth example) to a situation where one can be advantaged (the end) by questionable or immoral methods (the means).
  11. Hiroshima.
  12. :? :? :?

    Can someone please translate that to english for me?
  13. Iraq.


    Actually, pretty much all wars someone judged that the means justified the end! Unfortunately the "end" was usually reference to many innocent peoples lives.
  14. and me :?
  15. If when [the murder of Duncan] it is done, is the end of
    the trouble, then it is best that [the murder] be over and done with quickly.

    If the assassination [of duncan] could conclude and settle all the
    consequences, and (with duncan's death) mean success,

    then the murderous blow would be the be-all and end-all [of the troubles]
    and we'd skip the troublesome consequences afterward

    [referring to the political consequences after the murder, and also to punishment for murderers in the afterlife] [/quote]
  16. ...Nagasaki.
  17. The greatest good you can do is to give your life for someone else.

    The next greatest thing is to improve someone else's life - either through education, mentoring or gift. But ultimately through teaching (in any form).

    This is how I try to live my life.

    (No - not the first para, but the second para, smarties :roll: )!

    The converse is true for badnesses. Making someone's life poorer through misleading them or harming them in any way is not good, and obviously taking a life is the ultimate baddie thing.

    Performing any of these acts, or even allowing them to be carried out, in order obtain some end should come under the greatest scrutiny.

    We should not judge, and by performing an act such as FALCON-LORD describes ('If you see someone about to gun donw many inocent victems put a bullet it him.') is committing the greatest harm. However, NOT preventing the mass-murder also breaks my second baddie thing - allowing an icky thing to happen.

    As BruiserMadden says, judging is impossible from the very transient states we find ourselves in - there is always more facts and perspectives we do not and cannot know or perhaps understand at the time of our judgment.

    So I think _joel_ says it most succinctly: