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 | 12 Comments
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:
Share This Article
- Criminals Are Never Disarmed — Robert Heinlein
- Power Attracts the Corrupt — Frank Herbert
- Under Democracy — H.L. Mencken
- Guard Your Enemies from Oppression —> Thomas Paine
- Your Right to Not Support Evil
- Global Warming Shamanism
- The Squeaky Wheel…May Be Foolish
- Disarming the Victims
- The Inconvenience of Too Much Liberty
- The Supreme Court, on Nipples
Other Things You Need to Know
- How to Get Out of Jury Duty...and be a hero for it, instead of a "bad citizen"!
- Why Workers Dislike Unions
- Why You Can't Trust Your Government
- The History of Economic Downturns in the US
- Hayek's 1932 Letter on the Great Depression
- Why the End Does Not Justify the Means
- Sherman Anti-Trust Act, and Analysis
- Climate Change Timeline - 1895-2009
- The Truth about Income Inequality
- Learn from History...
kazvorpal on The Truth about Income In… Cecil on The Truth about Income In… kazvorpal on Are the Muslim Brotherhood Act… kazvorpal on The Truth about Income In… kazvorpal on The Truth about Income In…
- GMOs are Safer Than “Natural” HybridsPeople try to claim that Genetically Modified Organisms, for example corn with a gene spliced in that helps it resist a disease, are somehow more dangerous, because we don’t know what other changes the splicing may have wrought. The claim is made that that they are somehow “unproven” and could contain some surprise risk, but […]
- Ron Paul is Right: Don’t Abandon What We’ve AchievedIn his recent appearance on Jay Leno, Ron Paul made it clear that we should continue the fight to reclaim the Republican party from the socialist RiNOs…not abandon it for the ever-failed Libertarian party, right when we’ve achieved so much. After the fiasco of blatant rule-violation and corruption at the Republican national convention, some Libertarian […] […]
- It’s Because OBAMA Didn’t Build AnythingObama made the headlines last week, giving a speech from which a quote has been plucked and repeated, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.” This is yet another example of a quote missing the context of the speech around it. We need that context, in order to understand where Obama was coming […]
- Martha Stewart Did Nothing WrongWhat makes something good, or bad, is not whether it’s legal or banned. Anyone who disagrees can go explain it to Mr. Schindler. The difference between right and wrong, good and bad, is whether you violate another person’s property (including their body). This is the one universal “good versus evil” shared by all societies and […]
- How Green Food Causes World Hunger — Eggs“Organic” and other “Green” agriculture and food production is already widely understood to be causing food shortages, and skyrocketing food prices, worldwide, but it’s often too subtle and abstract an effect for regular people to really understand. But now we have a very stark, clear example, a crisis caused by imposing “green” techniques on everyone: […] […]
- Today, Congress Will Kill 387 PeopleNo, I don’t mean Congress will order the execution of 387 people today. I’d almost respect that more, because it’d be direct and therefore, in a sense, far more honest. But, according to a snowballing body of science, the sleep deprivation you’re suffering today because of Daylight Saving Time ends up killing hundreds of people, […]
- How Bush/Obama Create Terrorists“Look, we are AGAINST the Taliban, but if this action is repeated, we will all join the Taliban, and then these [US] forces will not be able to stay one more minute in Afghanistan.” Next time some ridiculous neocon claims Muslims become terrorists simply because they hate our “way of life”, not because of what […]
- How Government Stimulus Caused the Great DepressionFiled under: Economy, History Tagged: depression, government spending, great depression, herbert hoover, hoover, jobs program, obama, stimulus spending
- Worried about Bed Bugs? Thank the EPAYes, we all know that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of millions by malaria. But there’s something far more important to us in the US: The scourge of bed bugs has been spreading like wildfire, and they are really unpleasant. Bed bugs were pretty-much extinct in the US, by the early 1970s, killed […]
- Ron Paul in the General ElectionThere is this common myth that a “moderate” Republican — a big government interventionist — is the best choice for a general election. They are called the most “electable”…by the Big Government advocates in the media. As proof of this, we can look to how well Bob Dole and John McCain did. Conservatives compromised their principles, and […]
- GMOs are Safer Than “Natural” Hybrids
Site infoBut Now You Know
Blog at WordPress.com.