Does The End Justify The Means? First, let’s try to understand the sense in which the word “justifies” is used in the familiar statement that “the end justifies the means. ” After that we can consider the problem you raise about whether it is all right to employ any means – good or bad – so long as the end is good. When we say that something is “justified,” we are simply saying that it is right. Thus, for example, when we say that a college is justified in expelling a student who falls below a passing mark, we are acknowledging that the college has a right to set certain standards of performance and to require its students to meet them.
Hence, the college is right in expelling the student who doesn’t. In most societies, killing a human being is seen as a bad thing to do. But what do you do when a country declares war against you? The “end” in this case is the end of the war. If you do nothing and stick to your moral grounds, you will be destroyed, but the war will be over. If you take up arms to defend yourself, you are violating your moral code for the sake of stopping the war.. An enterprise can succeed only if it has a goal. To achieve that goal an effective method should be adopted.
The method can be harmless with no violence in it. Or it can be hard and cruel which calls for a lot of violence. In both cases, the goal is the same. Only the method of achieving it is different. The proverb, a very disputable one, means that if the goal is good the methods adopted for achieving it do not matter. It can be good or bad. The Florentine statesman, Machiavelli, in his book THE PRINCE advocated this doctrine. According to him, it is justifiable to go to any extent for achieving a good cause. It may be necessary to use violence sometimes.
It will be harmful to some people. But all that can be justified if the goal is good. Some great Indian leaders and thinkers like Gandhi have opposed this doctrine. According to them, it is not only necessary that the goal should be good but the means adopted for achieving it should also be good. In some countries, governments resort to anything for suppressing riots. When peaceful requests and talk fail to bring about the desired result, they use sheer force to suppress such riots.
They argue that it is for the common good of the public. Whatever be the truth, the doctrine ‘the end justifies the means’ happens to be a very controversial one which provokes much thinking and dispute. This phrase, originating from Niccolo Machiavelli’s book “The Prince”, is interpreted by some to mean doing anything whatsoever that is required to get the result you want, regardless of the methods used. It does not matter whether these methods are legal or illegal, fair or foul, kind or cruel, truth or lies, democratic or dictatorial, good or evil.
Some agree that the statement is correct; however, others don’t see it that way. . When a man reaches worthy means with unworthy methods, how does that feel within a human soul? Because people have a Conscience, whenever they like it or not, people have to feel for others when they do something bad.. Another view, the benefits from something outweigh the process attained. For example if somebody cured cancer, but he/she had to kill one cancer patient to find the cure.
They would say that the fact that they cured cancer made the loss of one life to save many worth it. The other way would mean something like the process makes the outcome worth it, which doesn’t make much sense. On the other hand, if the end is worth the cost, then it is fine to eliminate the undesirables. However, the problems arise when judging if it is worth it, and if the undesirable might be of potential value later. For example, assassinating undesirables that are murderers is justified in that it saves future lives.
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