It has become clear that many politicians and lawyers, and a few real people, don’t understand what is meant by The End Does Not Justify the Means.
They act like people are saying the desire to have pancakes cannot justify making batter. But this is more specific. It’s about good versus evil. In their unfortunate perspective, caring about what is right must seem insane.
But the truth is that this phrase sums up one of the most important principles of ethics and morality:
It means that there are certain fundamental principles that are “right”, “good”, et cetera, that are essential to those conditions…and you cannot justify violating them because you have some “right” or “good” goal in mind.
For example, you cannot have justice, unless you adhere to the principles of justice; It’s not OK to do unjust things to people simply because you have a just goal in mind.
This is a basic philosophical rule that is ignored or denied by almost all evil people you will find out there, and supported by almost all good ones. Marxists coined the modern use of the phrase “the end justifies the means”, and naturally they and their socialist spinoffs were responsible for the vast majority of all great evils, for the past century.
Joseph Stalin, for example, justified the deaths of tens of millions of his own people, by saying that the population was too large for (relatively inefficient) Communism to support. The mass death left Soviet society more sustainable. Did the betterment of millions of peoples’ lives justify the murder of millions of other people? According to Consequentialist socialists; yes.
Previously, the Dominican order of Catholicism was an advocate of the idea that the end justifies the means (in spirit), and it just so happens that they went on to conduct, among other great evils, the Inquisition. It was literally claimed that you may be saving the soul of the man you tortured or murdered in the name of God, so it was OK. All the ways the current Pope is less popular than his predecessor appear to center around his being of that Dominican mindset. In fact, the position he held before becoming pontiff was the Head of the Office of Inquisition, I kid you not…it had simply changed its name for PR reasons.
Likewise, when Machiavelli used that phrase in his satirical indictment of the evils and abuses of Feudal government, The Prince, he succeeded in hitting the nail on the head as to what is most wrong and unjust.
Required by Good
In reality, the end does not justify the means, in part because the long-term outcome of ignoring principles in order to buy short-term results is a failure of your own goals.
The idea that the wise principles override the short-sighted goal (a form of Deontology, if you like them thar fancified words) is why courts will overturn convictions on technicalities, one of the few good and just things remaining in the US legal system. Any honest — or as close as they get –prosecutor will tell you that the reason they hate that condition is how it keeps them from breaking rules and simply gambling punishment, in order to convict people they think are guilty. They are restrained from unjust acts, by this absolute enforcement of the principles of justice, even though it may let a guilty man walk in the short term.
When you have a principle, like “do not violate someone else’s property”, it cannot be overridden because you have some end in mind like “but the wealth I steal from his safe will benefit several other people who deserve it more”.
Like setting aside money for bills and emergencies instead of partying all of your paycheck away, sticking to the principles of what is good, right, and just produces the best outcome in the long run. You are investing in your ultimate goal by sticking to it when the going gets tough. When you panic and abandon your principles for a short-term benefit, you end up making things worse in the end.
THAT is why the end does not justify the means.
May 12, 2011 Posted by kazvorpal | Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Society | assassination, bill of rights, bin laden, capitalism, consequentialism, conservatism, conservative, constitution, corruption, deontological ethics, deontology, district attourneys, dominican order, evil, extrajudicial killing, geneva convention, geneva conventions, good, injustice, inquisition, john stuart mill, john stuart mills, joseph stalin, js mill, js mills, justice, karl mark, liberty, machiavelli, marcism, obama, osama bin laden, philosophy, pope benedict, pope john paul ii, principles, rights, socialism, stalinism, the end does not justify the means, the end justifies the means, the ends do not justify the means, the ends justify the means, the philosophy of liberty, the prince, torture, utilitarianism | 8 Comments
Thanksgiving, as it exists in America, is very special, right up there with Independence Day, as a celebration of true Conservative principles, and a repudiation of what we now know as Liberalism.
For example, what the Pilgrims were celebrating was an abandonment of the collectivist/socialist ideals they’d adopted when they first tried to form their colony.
The first colonists had starved, suffering the inefficiency and laziness bred by a “share the wealth” philosophy, where everything went into a common pool, and everyone got an equal share, much like Europe and the Clintons of the world embrace today.
When they finally started requiring people to take responsibility for themselves, adopting what amounted to a precursor of Reagan/Paul Conservatism, with community property being replaced by private property, and central planning by liberty, they found prosperity, and stopped dying out.
We’ll be in pretty much the same situation, a few years from now, after yet more years of the “share the wealth” philosophy of big government, ultimately not much of a departure from Bush’s stealth Liberalism of the past eight.
Not only were the Pilgrims celebrating the abandonment of socialism, and resulting prosperity, but the tradition of having a feast to give thanks was theirs because it was a Christian tradition to do so. Thanksgiving was not a “harvest festival”, as the politically correct in the Establishment media and government schools would have you believe.
It was, in this case, celebrating a bountiful harvest, but the “thanks giving” part was a standard Christian tradition in England, who would do this at any time of year, to celebrate whatever blessing they felt God had given them, or even to remind themselves of what they still had, when things were bad.
Puritans and other devout Christians in England, any time in the previous century or more, might have a thanksgiving feast any time a baby was born, or loved one died, for example.
And, as we all know, Liberalism is very anti-Christian, however loudly they object to that being pointed out, in between rounds of banning voluntary religious expression in public places, unless it’s Jewish, Islamic, or something else not-Christian. In fact, even the Christian nature of Thanksgiving, as well as Christmas, has been stripped by Liberal media, schools, and government, or else I wouldn’t need to be writing this in clarification.
November 28, 2008 Posted by kazvorpal | Family, Politics, Religion | capitalism, christian, christianity, collectivism, conservatism, holidays, liberalism, pilgrim, private property, rights, socialism, thanksgiving | Leave a Comment
This site has its origins before the word “Blog” existed. Back then its owner, Kaz, was simply thought of as having a website that published socio-political articles with regularity…But the only real difference was that the RSS/XML protocals were not yet used this way.
The website was known as Site of the Sentient, a reference to the famous Words of the Sentient, that Kaz had been editing for years previously.
When some random portal site hijacked the domain siteofthesentient.com, it was a dark time for the human knowledge quest. Fortunately, But Now You Know is striving to take up the slack, and even has some revamped versions of the original articles, for example Conscription, is it Slavery, and How to Get Out of Jury Duty, and be a hero instead of a bad citizen.
Kaz is a writer, graphic artist, and supplements his income by being a hardcore senior web developer.
Along with this blog, you can track his efforts with the dedicated facebook page here.
Speaking of tracking:
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