The Instigator
MoonDragon613
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Yraelz
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points

Does the End Justify the Means?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/20/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 32,950 times Debate No: 2789
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (9)

 

MoonDragon613

Pro

The End justifies the Means.

Whenever we approach a scenario, we should only think about the ends. The means are irrelevant except as to their impact on the Ends. As long as the Ends are justified, than the means are justified as well.

(feel free to dispute the word justified or any other word in the opening)
Yraelz

Con

Alright then. Considering my opponent has not yet defined the ends or the means I'm going to quickly do that and state my case.

The Ends: The end goal or what accomplishment is desired. For instance, I may be saving up my money for months in order to accomplish the end of buying a bike.

The Means: What I do in order to get to my goal. For instance in the above listed scenario my means to achieving my end would be saving money.

My opponent begs the question "do the ends justify the means" he has already taken the point of view on this issue that they do. I however fail to see my opponents logic, therefor I offer two scenarios.

Scenario 1: In my above listed scenario of buying a bike we can see that ends are justified. Buying a bike is justified. However this does not mean that the means will always be justified. For instance, if I was to get the money by stealing it in order to buy the bike the means would not be justified. Stealing is not justified in order to buy a bike.

Scenario 2: Human life exchange. Say that a man was holding 2 children hostage. This man is going to kill these children unless I do one thing. This thing is killing a third child who I know. Thus the end in this case would be saving two children, the means would be killing one. While this may be the only course of action that I can feasibly take it does not necessarily mean that it was justified. Let us reexamine the means: Killing an innocent child. Can killing an innocent child every truly be justified? I argue that it may be necessary but never justified.

I now stand open for my opponents first rebuttal.
Debate Round No. 1
MoonDragon613

Pro

Thank you for taking this debate. I expect this to be an interesting debate, and without further ado, I would like to begin by challenging your definition, and amending it slightly.

"The Ends: The end goal or what accomplishment is desired." is the definition proposed by Con.
I believe a more accurate definition would be "The Ends: The end goal or what accomplishment is INTENDED."
The distinction is subtle, but important nevertheless. The implication of the earlier definition is that all the Ends are desired, as in all Ends are good things. But in truth, the Ends are not just the desired Ends, but all the Intended Ends.
Take this scenario for example:
To kill Osama Bin Laden, who is hiding in this building, we had to launch a missile that blows up the building and all the inhabitants. The Ends is not just the death of Osama Bin Laden. We also intended to blow up the building and intended to kill all the other inhabitants. That this was an undesirable End does not change the fact that it is still an End.

This addresses the first type of scenario you presented where scenarios have more than one end. In your first example, the Ends are the acquisition of the bike, and the loss of merchandise on the part of the bike store. Both of these are intended consequences, and since the End in and of itself is not justified, the Means is not justified.

Now the second example is an entirely different type of scenarios. Scenarios which are morally ambiguous. But here is where the term "justify" comes into play. A classic moral dilemma is if you see a train coming, and to save 5 people you have to flick a switch which would condemn an innocent child to death, would you do it.
If you flick the switch, the Ends will be saving 5 lives and the death of 1 innocent child.
If you don't flick the switch, the Ends will be preserving the innocent child and condemning 5 people to death.

Although each of us have our own beliefs on what's right, what's wrong, what we would do, and what we would not, it does not change the fact that saving 5 lives, or preserving the innocent child, are both Justifications. While different people might behave differently, there is no denying that the action had Justification. In moral dilemmas, there are justifications for both sides, so the End does justify the means, and is justified in and of itself, Even if you do not agree with how the individual on the spot behaved.

And so for these reasons I am proud to support.
Yraelz

Con

Alright here goes my second rebuttal. I agree with my opponents definition, it bears little to no difference to mine.

First let us rescan my first point. The idea was simply this, a child wants a bike. In order to get that bike the child steals money as a means of attaining the bike. The child then buys the bike, my opponent counters this by arguing,

"In your first example, the Ends are the acquisition of the bike, and the loss of merchandise on the part of the bike store."

This is completely true. The ends are the acquisition of the bike and the loss of that bike on the stores part. However the means still stand as having stolen money in order to attain the bike. The fact that the kid bought the bike, the ends, does not justify the fact that he stole the money, the means.

In other words, the ends, in this scenario, do not justify the means. My opponent is arguing that the ends always justify the means, this is simply not true.

Onto the analogy my opponent offered. He says blowing up Osama Bin Laden will require blowing up the entire building he is in. My opponent then tries to argue that blowing up the building is part of the ends but this is simply not true. If that action was the intended outcome of the situation then it might be true, however in this situation it is simply a means of destroying Osama Bin Laden. The way in which my opponent evaluates this scenario totally gets rid of the means only leaving us with ends. As he is arguing that he ends justify the means he is currently failing by getting rid of the means. If there are no means they cannot be justified.

Now to evaluate scenario 2. My opponent gives me an analogy in which one can either kill a baby or 5 people. The fact of the matter is he is once again destroying the means. There is nothing wrong per say with the definition my opponent offered but the way he is twisting it simply is not feasible. Every situation has means to an ends, in this situation there are no means.... My opponent is arguing that killing the baby would be intended, saving the people would be intended, flicking the switch would be intended. Then what may I ask are the means? In summary my opponent falsely mislabels ends that are really means.

From here my opponent goes on to argue that either situation can be justified through the ends. And yes, under my opponents misconception, anything can be justified. But my opponent has misclassified the means in this case, what he should have said was, "One way the means will justify the ends, the other way the ends will justify the means."

Thank you.
Debate Round No. 2
MoonDragon613

Pro

Fascinating. My opponent begins by accepting my definition stating it bears "little to no difference" to his definition. Then turns around and spends the rest of his argument disputing the validity of my definition by claiming my definition "misclassified the means".

In order to illustrate the distinction between the ends, the means, and how the end justifies the means, (since my illustrious opponent claims that I've been mislabeling), I think few scenarios are better than from the Disney movie Aladdin. (I don't need philosophers or literature to do my illustrations)

Aladdin, in order to save the kingdom from the evil sorcerer Jafar, DECEIVES him into wishing for the powers of the genie and then trapped him in the genie lamp.

What are the Ends and what are the Means?
The Ends are of course the saving of the kingdom, the enslavement of Jafar, and the preservation of Aladdin's life, the princess's life/virginity, and the restoration of the Sultan. These are all Ends.
The Means are of course the act of Deception. Through Deception, Aladdin achieved all these intended Ends.

Now here, do the Ends justifies the Means? Although Kant might frown upon the use of deception, here in fact it is largely agreed upon that the Ends did justify the Means, and universally agreed on that there were many justifications of the Means because of the Ends.

So taking the example of a kid stealing money to buy a bike. The act of stealing is the Means by which he achieved the Ends which were a) depriving someone of money and b) acquiring a bike. He after all intentionally deprived someone of money and intentionally used that money to acquire a bike. And so the Ends here are not justified in and of itself, and therefore the Means are not justified.

The key here is that in every circumstance where an observed feels that the Ends are justified, then he/she will always feel that the Ends justified the Means.

So with Osama, once again, just because you want to blow up Osama, if you intended to blow up the entire building, you cannot deny that blowing up the entire building is also a consequence, an intended End result of your Means, which is firing the missile or dropping a bomb. If you believe that killing Osama is of overriding importance, then to you the Ends are justified, and so is the use of the weapons. If you do not believe the Ends are justified, then it doesn't matter. My opponent wants us to ignore the intended consequence of our actions and just focus on the good parts. But the truth is, all our actions have positive and negative consequences, as my (uncontested) definition states. And so in considering the Ends, we must view all intended consequences, not just the ones we like.

And to cap it off, here's a demonstration.
Bob shoots and robs 27 mailmen. As a result, 27 families were shattered, federal agents were lost, and 27 jobs opened up in the federal government. Let's just ignore the first 2 and say, it had a good end because 27 jobs opened up in the federal government, and claim the other 2 consequences were the means.
Yraelz

Con

Yes, truly fascinating. I must begin this round by clarifying.

It is not the definition that I am disputing in any way, it is rather my opponent's interpretation of the definition. He seems to believe that the ends consist of every outcome. This is simply false, the ends are the outcomes that are desired.

A great example:

"The dialectic of Means and Ends is of deep historical, ethical and political significance. The "Means" is the activity a subject engages in with the intention of bringing about a certain "End." The "End" has initially only an ideal existence, and the Realised End – the actual outcome of the adopted Means – may be quite different from the abstract End for which the Means was adopted in the first place." - http://www.marxists.org...

Notice the idea of the means in this quote. Its simply the activity a subject engages in to reach a desired means. This might be stealing, lieing, hurting people, etc.....

My opponent brings his Disney example into the round,

"Aladdin, in order to save the kingdom from the evil sorcerer Jafar, DECEIVES him into wishing for the powers of the genie and then trapped him in the genie lamp.

What are the Ends and what are the Means?
The Ends are of course the saving of the kingdom, the enslavement of Jafar, and the preservation of Aladdin's life, the princess's life/virginity, and the restoration of the Sultan. These are all Ends.
The Means are of course the act of Deception. Through Deception, Aladdin achieved all these intended Ends. "

Great, I almost totally agree with this. However I argue that the enslavement of Jafar is the means to which the ends of saving the kingdom, his life, the princess's life and the restoration of the sultan.

However alternative situation, say that Alladin had to sacrifice Agrabah in order to achieve those same ends. In which case it obviously wouldn't be justified.

Next my opponent brings up my kid stealing a bike example. He says that the act of stealing = means of depriving money. This can be seen as a means/ends chain. Act of stealing is the means to attaining money. Attaining money is the means to buying a bike. It just depends on what the desired goal is that one has in mind. The ends is the end of the chain. The ends = attaining a bike in this case. A common thief on the other hand might simply have the ends of attaining money.

Next my opponent brings Osama B Laden back into the debate. Its the same kind of situation as the bike one. Ends = killing Osama. The means are blowing up the building in which he is in. My opponent tries to say that I am attempting to ignore all the bad consequences. This is fallacy commonly known as the the Ad Hominem fallacy. My opponent is trying to make a personal attack on me in order to discredit my case. This isn't true, I'm simply classifying them as the means.

Finally my opponent brings the example of a man shooting 27 mailmen. This analogy simply helps my case. This proves why the ends will not always justify the means. If one examines this situation with the end goal being that jobs were opened up, which is a good thing, then the ends do not justify the means by which the jobs opened up.

Thus, I advocate that there is a balance between the ends and the means. Sometimes the ends will justify the means, other times they will not. Sometimes the means will actually justify the ends.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by MoonDragon613 9 years ago
MoonDragon613
Lol, after reading what I wrote, I didn't vote for myself. Not one of my more inspired line of argument.
Posted by Logical-Master 9 years ago
Logical-Master
Wow, a complete shutout. I got to read this when I get the opportunity.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
Yeah, that one is tempting.
Posted by sleepiB 9 years ago
sleepiB
Justice is one hell of an overriding end.
Posted by HandsOff 9 years ago
HandsOff
This is a great debate topic. There are instances when the ends do truly justify the means. Here is the problem when we do not GENERALLY adhere to the rule that "the ends do not justify the means": The ends are often over valued while the injustices caused by the means are downplayed.

I accuse liberals and conservatives of this all the time for advocating that we give up valuable freedoms in exchange for the lackluster benefits or safety they perceive to be worth the cost.
Posted by sleepiB 9 years ago
sleepiB
It is true that the ends always justify the means, but that is only after you take all goals and plausible ends into account. The only time an end is unable to justify any specific means, is if there is an overriding end(goal), or a more efficient means.
Posted by MoonDragon613 9 years ago
MoonDragon613
where else would i get it from? =D
Posted by C-Mach 9 years ago
C-Mach
I assume you got this from my debate "Are You in Favor of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)?"
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