Do the ends justify the means?

Should you think about your duty, or about the consequences of your actions? Or should you concentrate on becoming a good person?

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prof
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Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by prof » Fri Jun 16, 2017 11:37 pm

Skip wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 2:02 pm
prof wrote:
Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:13 am
[P -- Is it morally okay to use any means to reach a goal, as
Long as you come out ‘the winner’?]
... "winning at all costs" - a selfish, short-sighted attitude,
Content with this note of agreement, we concur that there are always some possible exceptions, such as, for example, "All's fair in love...": In the pursuit of a mate one is still moral even if one exaggerates or fibs a little about one's own achievements or status. The partner will soon find out the truth, and by that time may be "into you" ...in more ways than one.

To learn more about morality, see pp 29-35 in BASIC ETHICS
http://www.myqol.com/wadeharvey/PDFs/BASIC%20ETHICS.pdf

as well as Ch. 6, pp. 225-29 in How To Live Successfully
https://www.amazon.com/LIVING-SUCCESSFU ... B01NBKS42C
This selection was written and published just this year, 2017.

Skip
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Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:34 pm

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by Skip » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:53 am

My objection to "winning at all costs" is that it's different from "the end justifies the means."
The concepts are not normally applied in the same arena, and this: "as long as you come out the winner" should never have been used under the title.
we concur that there are always some possible exceptions, such as, for example, "All's fair in love...":
I do not recall concurring with that. I said mating shouldn't mixed in with war: they are problems on a different scale and of a different nature. Even so, I would never agree to "all's fair" in love, or even in a struggle for survival.
In the pursuit of a mate one is still moral even if one exaggerates or fibs a little about one's own achievements or status. The partner will soon find out the truth, and by that time may be "into you" ...in more ways than one.
This is just plain trivial.

I wish you could pick an issue and be consistent in your reference points.

prof
Posts: 918
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by prof » Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:57 am

Skip wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:53 am
My objection to "winning at all costs" is that it's different from "the end justifies the means."

[... I would never agree to "all's fair" in love, or even in a struggle for survival.
I take it then that you believe that the end justifies the means, except you hold that there are no ends, and you phrase this concept as: For the greater good we will make certain compromises, even if they are immoral. ...or some such ideas to that effect.

I believe Mr. D. J. Trump agrees with you on this, as evidenced by his many lawsuits, failure to pay his lawyers, contractors, etc., artful con-jobs, and so forth. The "greater good" he would claim, "is the profit I will make." "You ask why I do certain things," he has said to reporters. "It's because it sells !!"

What I meant by" ends" when I used the word are intentions, aspirations, aims, ambitions, causes, and purposes.

"I agree with you that actions taken serve to constrain the next decision. You are wise to be conscious of that.


You write, Skip, "Means are justified - or excused - in cases where the desired outcome is presumed morally just and overweaningly important.
What's usually excused is a smaller wrong in order to achieve a greater right. More on the order of breaking eggs to make an omelette. "
My question for you is, Do you sanction or give permission to this excusing of the "ways and means" - to use your phrase - in the name of committing "small wrongs" or "breaking a few eggs," even though the collateral damage (to employ a euphemism often seen) causes grievous and tragic suffering?

I have always considered you to be a man of good will, and good character, Skip.

Manipulators and exploiters frequently live out the philosophy that "The end justifies the means I use, or am using." Noble ends that have been cited for "breaking a few eggs" - or heads - are "Freedom," "Liberty," Peace," "Defense," "the Socialist cause," "Maintaining the world order," "Police Action," etc.etc.

Comments welcome!
Last edited by prof on Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

Skip
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Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:34 pm

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by Skip » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:16 am

prof wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 3:57 am
I take it then that you believe that the end justifies the means,
No
except you hold that there are no ends,
only goals, aims and intentions, most of which are unattainable,
if only because whatever means are used to achieve them changes the situation and the players.
and you phrase this concept as: For the greater good we will make certain compromises, even if they are immoral. ...or some such ideas to that effect.
"We" is unspecified. Different persons in different situations make different decisions, and none have unlimited choice.
The world does not always permit of perfect solutions or morally pure actions.
People also have beliefs, some of which are factually incorrect, and incomplete intelligence and no clear sight of the future.
Sometimes they do what seems to them the most moral thing and it is not seen that way by someone from another culture, centuries later.
Sometimes they do what they know is immoral, but are convinced that it's the least bad thing they can do in the circumstances.
Sometimes they make what they believe is a necessary sacrifice for the greater good, and must justify or explain or convince others that it's the right thing to do.
Sometimes they have insufficient information, insufficient time and bad advice, and make a bad decision under pressure.
Sometimes they choose the wrong thing knowingly and their justification is bogus.
Almost everyone, at some moments of decision, has had to make a compromise; has fallen short of their own ideal.
Life is not a textbook.
I believe Mr. D. J. Trump agrees with you on this,
That is uncalled-for.
That is, in fact, so low that you have thereby forfeited any credible claim to ethical scientist or moralist or interlocutor.

prof
Posts: 918
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by prof » Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:53 am

Science Fan wrote:
Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:01 pm
If someone waged a war and killed off their enemies, then there would be a non--violent future...
.

:idea: Obviously you're not using the concept "non-violent" the way Tolstoy, Gandhi, Dr. M.L. King, and the members of Code Pink use it. http://www.codepink.org/about
Also see: http://www.codepink.org/allies

Have you noticed that when attempts are made to "kill off the enemies" new enemies seem to emerge? Is it possible that the killing somehow generates, an even multiplies, more enemies?? :twisted:

....Incidentally, I'm a science fan too !!! :wink:

Your impressions?
Last edited by prof on Sat Jun 17, 2017 6:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

prof
Posts: 918
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by prof » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:32 am

Skip wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:16 am
I
That is uncalled-for.
That is, in fact, so low that you have thereby forfeited any credible claim to ethical scientist or moralist or interlocutor.
Mea culpa. Yes, that was uncalled for. My profound apologies. I slipped up there. I won't again mention you and the U.S. President in the same sentence, nor even think such a vile thought. What you write about human frailty is true.

Please forgive me.

.
p.s. I do not aspire to be a moralist, nor do I claim to be one. Actually I strive to avoid it. Those who work in Ethics, as a science, do not moralize, do not tell others how they must live. They do, however, offer practical and effective guidelines for harmonious human relations. These are only suggestions. Ignorance, along with all the other weaknesses of which you have written in your recent post, may prevent some from adopting the guidelines (known in the science as Ethical Principles.) Also, the Ethicists do derive policies they find to be consistent with those principles.

Skip
Posts: 2224
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:34 pm

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by Skip » Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:08 pm

I don't use "moralist" as a pejorative, but rather in the sense of one who sets out moral codes and dictates; one who instructs others in morality.
Your rejection of that label was noted, but overridden in my anger at being unjustly labelled something far, far worse.
What I object to is not me and that evil clown in the same sentence - for that matter, you could put us in the same room, and he would emerge unscathed, by virtue [!] of sheer physical revulsion - even though that particular end could readily justify some underhanded means.
What I object to is the deliberate misrepresentation of what I've stated quite clearly, and its subversion to your own previous stance, which I had tried earnestly to refute. Since that endeavour has proved futile, I take my leave --
without animus or rancor
(Only remember: connect no non-existent dots.)

prof
Posts: 918
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 1:57 am

Re: Do the ends justify the means?

Post by prof » Sat Jun 17, 2017 8:36 pm

Skip wrote:
Sat Jun 17, 2017 5:08 pm
(Only remember: connect no non-existent dots.)
Right there, you are telling us how to live, or suggesting how Philosophy mighty be done better. This is fine. The former could be based on one's theory of Ethics. And that is what I'm interested in - and why it is appropriate in this Forum.

The thread was initiated with a question designed to learn of your Ethical Theory; and this query was directed a all Readers and Participants here at this Forum. It read as follows:

"Is it morally okay to use any means (methods, ways-and-means, tactics) to reach a goal, as long as you (or your side) come out ‘the winner’?

On the topic of The MEANS-ENDS relationship -- ... it seem to me that ends achieved are related to the means used: ...If you want stability in a marriage, or in the world, then stable means are required to reach your end-in-view. {The opposite of stable means are chaotic or immoral means-to-an-end.} - Isn't it reasonable to be aware that chaotic or destructive means will not in themselves result in a stable, sustainable state of affairs." [ In my view, Ethical conduct and relationships are sustainable.]

In posting this, I meant for the above concept(s) to be the point of the discussion.

Addressing everyone here:
according to your ethical theory, should we care about the means used to get to a goal, no matter how noble that goal may be? Is it ethically legit to employ questionable means (methods, ways-and-means, tactics) and thus commit some immoralities, if the purpose or aim is overwhelmingly an Intrinsic Value (i.e., infinitely-high in value.)?

That is the issue.

How do you feel about this?

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