Do ends justify means?


Well means cause ends ... sans the means i would not have arrived here.  To the extent that i can predict which causes create which effects i can manifest my chosen purposes.  So in all my intentional actions i must needs calculate the means to my projected ends.  I know of no way to intentionally peruse my purposes without those calculations.  Consequently, at this level of comprehension, i must answer the question like this:  where i am intentional, my ends, do in fact, justify my means.

That said, let me try to get at the wisdom of the moral rule from a different direction.  Do no evil.   That is simple enough ... and is certainly a morality that i embrace.  But is it really that simple?  For example, for the sake of argument let me say, that it would be evil for me to chop off a perfectly healthy leg.   But if my life had depended on me severing myself from my leg, i must needs have done that deed.  In this case, the end would have justified the means ... er, or i would not be here telling you this story.  Suddenly an act, that otherwise would have been evil, became instead heroic within its context.  So certainly this moral rule, "The ends do not justify the means", should only be followed within an appropriate context. 

So the question emerges ... what is the context in which the ends should not justify the means to get there?

hmmm ... good question ... eh?

Perhaps Saul Alinsky has answered that one by making the question more precise and particular: "Does this particular end justify this particular means?"

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  1. ends justifies means

Comments


MeE says
Confusing the question & consigning it to dispersion by assuming your conclusion, while artful, is mostly Bozometry.  Here is what Saul Alinsky says about it on the first page of his 2nd chapter in Rules for Radicals: ( you can find the book somewhere ).  There is clearly no question at all 30 seconds before death for any single person who arrived there by any means & an infinite series of cause-effect chains & infinite quantity of feedback loops.



Seth says
MeE 2014-01-08 09:29:05 17011
Current context is spurious. Ends justifies means questions arise where there are many different ways to accomplish the same goal & many different goals to chase - which usually happens in social & political situations.  Hamlet notwithstanding has a different question.


Yes certainly .   So i calculate amongst all the possible purposes and courses of actions the one that is the best and embark on my journey.  When i arrive, having encountered whatever slings and arrows, i will claim that my having arrived at my destination, will have justified the path that i took.  The ends would have justified the means ... my question is when is that not the case?

MeE says
seth 2014-01-08 11:55:32 17011
MeE 2014-01-08 11:30:30 17011
seth 2014-01-08 11:14:13 17011
MeE 2014-01-08 10:55:47 17011
Seth may be unprincipled

that sentence as written is not actually true at all.   a better one is, Seth's principles are sensitive to context.
The sentence is not true at all only if Seth never follows a principle.  But he does even though he would never acknowledge it in the open. He follows mostly a self-determined principle called "survival of the fittest" or as he states "... survival is better!"
... it is those 3-letter words that trip speed readers up!

well it is truly hard to parse your words, or your intended meanings here.   Let me try to clarify ...

I follow principles frequently in the context in which i deem they apply.  Survival of the fittest does not even seem to me to be a principle to follow ... rather it seems to be just a consequence of my tenuous existence.  It is more like an admonition from the universe like ... "fuck up, and you die" ... hence i try not to fuck up in that regard .
My words don't need parsing they are straight English. Maybe you follow a principle of live as long as you can.

Seth says
Well i have no troubles with Alinsky's thoughts here as they are saying the same thing as am i.  I too think the question should be, "Does this particular end justify this particular means?"

The pesky part is where he says, "To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends, is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles".  Which is a true sentence to me as well.  Is it a true sentence to you?  If not, why not? ... and er, why do you keep advising in various contexts that "The end should not justify the means"?

Seth says
MeE 2014-01-08 10:38:41 17011
MeE 2014-01-08 10:37:08 17011
MeE 2014-01-08 10:36:08 17011
The question appears in R4R to be: operate from principles? or operate from pragmatism?
In Common Logic 1984 I coined the notion that the Ends & the Means must both be true, beautiful & good be in Common Logic. One could say that this foretold other Companies writing their own mottoes such as "Do no Evil".

Obviously Seth, up till now, favors pragmatism.

Yes i favor pragmatism.  If i were you, i would not expect that to change.   Principles are great too ... but i believe they should be applied, or not, within a context.  I really know of no context insensitive principles that i should follow.  Alinsky's coding of this particular principle is better than the one you appear to be using.  That is all i am saying.

Seth says
source: mark
Why do you keep ignoring the principle of PRINCIPLES? ... & my previous articulation of same?

... Well i am quite aware that you are advising principles.  and i even can see that your edict that, "Ends & the Means must both be true, beautiful & good",  is a spectacular beautiful ideal.  But, really Mark, my experience tells me that everything cannot always be true, beautiful, & good ... not even myself, any of my claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

... so apparently i am right there again on a cusp of decision: ... do i imagine myself living in a world of sombody's ideal ... or do i live in the world that i actually find real ?  

MeE says
seth 2014-01-08 11:11:16 17011
source: mark
Why do you keep ignoring the principle of PRINCIPLES? ... & my previous articulation of same?

... Well i am quite aware that you are advising principles.  and i even can see that your edict that, "Ends & the Means must both be true, beautiful & good",  is a spectacular beautiful ideal.  But, really Mark, my experience tells me that everything cannot always be true, beautiful, & good ... not even myself, any of my claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

... so apparently i am right there again on a cusp of decision: ... do i imagine myself living in a world of sombody's ideal ... or do i live in the world that i actually find real ?  
Back to ... context & distinction school:
Context is a distinction in which you hold other distinctions such as an objective world exists such that objects such as a spot of white & black birdshit on a windshield exists in that same context & the windshield & most likely the windshield exists on say a car. 
A distinction is just some way of separating something in focus by some senses for attention from the background of all sensory input.
Context & distinction are how we clothe in words & language what we have at some time in our attention. Note I am not going to eek out a whole ontology here one word at a time.
The granularity of distinction & conversely the hierarchy of attention context yields "higher" & "lower" notions. Scientific classification of genus & species is an example in the biological tree - phylogeny, taxonomy.
Principles are simply higher & lower distinctions about human behavior.  The ideal is somewhat different but could be thought of as the ultimate perfection of some ideas about some kind of behavior. I hold the Golden Rule as an Ideal. Some just reduce it to reciprocity & let it go at that.
"sombody's ideal" is just paranoid/hagglified  Bozometry - until we live in a world of mechanical mind reading you are free to reject or accept or ignore any ideal that enters your mind.  You might think of the words ideal & idea in separate terms.
Somehow I suspect that S'th must by his own words reject any ideal that he has not made up on his own out of his own pragmatic/quibbling process.
... & yet that process came from where ? What do you suppose that white stuff is in the birdshit?


MeE says
  • means/ends is a many:many mapping
  • rarely does one grasp the whole mapping before action - if ever
  • rarely is there just one choice that fits &/or appropriate for action for some values of the meaning of fits & appropriate
  • how do you choose if not from some higher granularity than the original many:many mapping choice matrix?
  • I call such , the latter, a principle
  • some think of it as a higher level of being

Seth says
MeE 2014-01-08 13:13:41 17011
  • means/ends is a many:many mapping
  • rarely does one grasp the whole mapping before action - if ever
  • rarely is there just one choice that fits &/or appropriate for action for some values of the meaning of fits & appropriate
  • how do you choose if not from some higher granularity than the original many:many mapping choice matrix?
  • I call such , the latter, a principle
  • some think of it as a higher level of being

Actually i think we see this rather similarly.  You talk of "some higher granularity" ... i term, what i believe is the same thing as "a gestalt of the whole".   We feel ourselves, think ouselves, and do ourselves ... yet our lives are not just our own, they are also a part of a whole ... i call that whole "Humanity".   I want to think, feel, and act my part in harmony with my Gestalt Of The Whole ...what can i say, i'm a good boy, my mama made me that way.  You may want to call that acting on principle ... and if that is the case then we are in sync there. 

Thing is, any principles which comes from the Gestalt of the Whole must needs always be reflected into our language in the meta world.  As such these principles are over simplified rules which merely approximately model the real glorious whole or higher world.  Consequently i must interpert those principles myself within the real situations which i encounter.  Where there is a tension (or contradiction) between the meta-model principle and the real situation, then sometimes there is an error in the meta-model, sometimes i must change the situation itself, or fall out of sync with the Gestalt, or even re-recognize it.   I see no easy rule of thumb that will always work to guide me there. 

I think you see the Gestalt as fixed, directly accessible ... and the principles derived therefrom also as fixed, and their interpretation and application undeniable, and hence always to be followed.  That would seem to me to be a far simpler world than i find myself.  I don't know where to stand to practically and honestly use such fixed presumptions.  Perhaps you can stand there ... i don't know ... but, to be honest, i cannot say that i feel that you actually do.

MeE says
seth 2014-01-08 18:12:06 17011
MeE 2014-01-08 13:13:41 17011
  • means/ends is a many:many mapping
  • rarely does one grasp the whole mapping before action - if ever
  • rarely is there just one choice that fits &/or appropriate for action for some values of the meaning of fits & appropriate
  • how do you choose if not from some higher granularity than the original many:many mapping choice matrix?
  • I call such , the latter, a principle
  • some think of it as a higher level of being

Actually i think we see this rather similarly.  You talk of "some higher granularity" ... i term, what i believe is the same thing as "a gestalt of the whole".   We feel ourselves, think ouselves, and do ourselves ... yet our lives are not just our own, they are also a part of a whole ... i call that whole "Humanity".   I want to think, feel, and act my part in harmony with my Gestalt Of The Whole ...what can i say, i'm a good boy, my mama made me that way.  You may want to call that acting on principle ... and if that is the case then we are in sync there. 

Thing is, any principles which comes from the Gestalt of the Whole must needs always be reflected into our language in the meta world.  As such these principles are over simplified rules which merely approximately model the real glorious whole or higher world.  Consequently i must interpert those principles myself within the real situations which i encounter.  Where there is a tension (or contradiction) between the meta-model principle and the real situation, then sometimes there is an error in the meta-model, sometimes i must change the situation itself, or fall out of sync with the Gestalt, or even re-recognize it.   I see no easy rule of thumb that will always work to guide me there. 

I think you see the Gestalt as fixed, directly accessible ... and the principles derived therefrom also as fixed, and their interpretation and application undeniable, and hence always to be followed.  That would seem to me to be a far simpler world than i find myself.  I don't know where to stand to practically and honestly use such fixed presumptions.  Perhaps you can stand there ... i don't know ... but, to be honest, i cannot say that i feel that you actually do.
.. & yet you use the phrase: "the Gestalt Of The Whole" - wtf is that & where did it come from.  I never heard of such a thing; metashit notwithstanding. I know what the US Constitution is, though & the Bill of Rights & these are principles which set up the United States government & America.  The Hippocratic Oath applies to medicine (or did in the old days). Werner Erhard has "honor your word as yourself" which I previously posted elsewhere under integrity. These are nothing mystical, abstract, or Gnostick - no metashit required to access them.


MeE says
BØZØ Ø

Seth says
source: mark
"the Gestalt Of The Whole" - wtf is that & where did it come from.  I never heard of such a thing

... sure you have.  Everybody talks of a higher self ... or perhaps you have heard it as Christ our Lord ... or maybe RS's personal arch angel ... etc, etc.  Spock went the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one.  Humanity is a Gestalt of the whole. 

MeE says
seth 2014-01-09 08:10:51 17011
source: mark
Principles are simply higher & lower distinctions about human behavior.
When i think of a principle i think of a rule or method ... a way to do something, or not to do something.  It does seem higher than just recognizing something there ... for example, knowing how to make cornbread is higher than just knowing how to recognize a piece of it in the bread basket.   Is that pointing the direction to recognizing our higher being ?  I don't know ... do you?

Reread the bulleted list above ~ 2014-01-08 18:30:01 ... If you focus is within the context of behavior you get morals & laws; if you focus is within the context of being you get more Being; if your focus is on politics you get laws, constitutions, party platforms; if your focus is on solving problems & workability in corporations you get agreements, solutions & possibilities (all needing clothing in language such as charters, contracts ... etc.


MeE says
Principle via Etymology Online:
principle (n.) Look up principle at Dictionary.comlate 14c., "origin, source, beginning; rule of conduct; axiom, basic assumption; elemental aspect of a craft or discipline," from Anglo-French principle, Old French principe "origin, cause, principle," from Latin principium (plural principia) "a beginning, commencement, origin, first part," in plural "foundation, elements," from princeps (see prince). Used absolutely for (good or moral) principle from 1650s.It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them. [Adlai Stevenson, speech, New York City, Aug. 27, 1952] Scientific sense of "general law of nature" is recorded from 1802. The English -l- apparently is by analogy of participle, etc.***
Those of us who like to think before acting & working sometimes with more than one at a time will appreciate getting some of the axioms out of the way first.



MeE says
I'm sure the BØZØ Ø part would always object (that's one of its' behaviors) no matter what answer I supply. Contemplate a la BofNK, ! continuously until you get answer after answer after answer .....
(to infinity & beyond)


Seth says
MeE 2014-01-09 08:52:36 17011
seth 2014-01-09 08:10:51 17011
source: mark
Principles are simply higher & lower distinctions about human behavior.
When i think of a principle i think of a rule or method ... a way to do something, or not to do something.  It does seem higher than just recognizing something there ... for example, knowing how to make cornbread is higher than just knowing how to recognize a piece of it in the bread basket.   Is that pointing the direction to recognizing our higher being ?  I don't know ... do you?

quite so ... this kind of thing is frequently studies under the term "dimensions of context". 

My agenda here is to tease out which dimension of context this so called higher being lies within.   The Guru says, "tune into your higher self", me i am just asking ... "er ... how do i move to go higher?"   And yes, i do realize that is probably not you particular agenda here. 

Sometimes i treat my mind like i make a salad ... throw things in there and watch for how they connect up.  For example, how does the rule, "determine whether this particular end justifies this particular means?", connect at all with which direction to look for Humanity as a whole?  How do moral principles in general connect up with a Gestalt of what the insides of Hunanity feel like? 

MeE says
MeE 2014-01-09 09:01:44 17011
seth 2014-01-09 08:48:08 17011
source: mark
Again you have collapsed a lot of shit together which does NOT fit together just to have a label you can bounce around.  Just label it the Universe & get on with it.
BØZØ Ø

... yep, that does kind of describe the process of thinking and reading and writing.  Recognize, if you dare, in the background of what you are calling "collapsed" the specific, perhaps even subtle, distinctions and relationships there which are different than habitual thinking ... or not ...
Yep ... I recognized it in the BØZØ Ø equation!

.. & acknowledged it the same equation.

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