The Instigator
Scuba
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points
The Contender
Merda
Pro (for)
Winning
9 Points

If the ends is in question, can the ends ever solely justify the means ?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/28/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,270 times Debate No: 16753
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)

 

Scuba

Con

I'm against/con to anyone ever saying. "The end justified the means." and letting it go at that as an explanation.

It is my contention that most do not understand the saying concerning means and ends. Some say "The end justified the means." and others say "The end never justifies the means." . The end never justifies the means in my opinion is meant to be taken as follows:

1. The end has to be in question of course. Why else would one be looking to justify the means?

2. The saying is trying to convey that the end cannot ever solely justify the means.

It is my contention that people need to understand this. To let people say that the end justified the means without going into detail is like teaching a child its ok to hit their playmate in order to get the candy from them. To say "the end justified the means" is equivalent to saying "I did it any way I wanted to get my way".

To ever say "the end justified the means" and to let it go at that should always be condemned and challenged and never accepted as an explanation.
Merda

Pro

Before I begin I would like to define the terms of this debate just so that there is no confusion.

Definitions

Ends: the product of an action

Means: the way by which one achieves an end

Justify: (This one is not so easy to define off the top of my head so I used the dictionary definition) the moral principle determining just conduct.[1] But what is 'just'?

Just: fairness or adherence to established rules

Burden of Proof

As instigator of this debate, my opponent will retain the primary burden of proof since he did not address it in R1. My responsibility will be to refute my opponent's arguments.

Argumentation

I am somewhat confused by what my opponent is arguing. The resolution asks is ends can justify means so I would assume as Con he is arguing that they cannot. However through a lot of his R1 he argues that people need to know what the phrase means. For arguments sake, I will assume he is debating the resolution.

Can the ends justify the means? I will be arguing in the form of a syllogism.

Premise 1: When asking if ends can justify means one is arguing from a just perspective(ex. Is the overall product just?).

Premise 2: In some situations, the justice of an end can outweigh the in-jusice of the means to acheive that end.(ex. If we take as a rule that one should not kill, then killing one person to save 1,000 people from being killed is just in that it best preserves the rule out of all the options available.

My opponent's example of a child hitting a classmate in order to get their candy is a mis-representation of the ends justifying the means. If one were to weigh the in-justice of hitting a classmate with the justice of getting some candy, the in-justice would ultimately outweigh the justice.

Conclusion 1: In some situations, the ends can justify the means to those ends.


[1] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Scuba

Con

I only have one change, that I think is minor, to the definitions.
That is ENDS: the product of an action. I'd like to change that to the plural and it be action/actions.
MEANS: I completeley agree with that definition.
JUST and JUSTIFY: I also agree with that definition to a point. The saying that it means fairness still leaves it
open to interpretation. Is it fair to the creator of the action? Fair to the resultant of the action? Or is it fair to society?

ARGUMENTATION:
That my opponent weighed the hitting of the child to the acquisition of the candy is the point I'm trying to make.

That the perpetrator of the action or reporters or proponents of the action can say the end justified the means and let it go at that is what I'm con to. To say "The end justified the means" is like saying "I've decided whats right - end of discussion."

Comments on premise 1:
I mean the ends and not the overall product.

Comments on premise 2:
I'm glad to see this example used. "The killing of one innocent life to save a thousand." Why a thousand? Why not a hundred? Why not ten? Why not two. Why not a loved one versus a stranger? There's a reason why in the movies the hero saves the 1000 versus killing the one innocent.
Merda

Pro

Argumentation

My opponent claims that he is against a person claiming that the ends justidied the mmeans to those ends. But why? Does he bring a better option or even attack what is wrong with claiming that ends can possibly justify means? And nowhere did I argue that that would be the end of discussion. People are free to argue as to if ends can justify means. This is a debate on whether they can though and not over whether it is up for discussion as it obviously is if we are discussing it.

Comments on premise 1

Is not the ends instrinsically connected to the overall product? Let's say you kill a squirrel to feed and save your family from starving. The ends is feeding your family which not everyone would agree is worth taking a life. But the overall product is you and your family surviving. So we must take into account the larger picture if we are to be thorough.

Comments on premise 2

My opponent asks why I chose 1,000 people. I simply chose it at random. The question of this debate is if ends can ever possibly justify means. I picked 1,000 because I believe that if we take as a rule that killing is wrong and should be avoided as much as possible, killing one to save 1,000 best preserves the rule.
Debate Round No. 2
Scuba

Con


My argument is that I'm con to anyone claiming the end solely justifies thr means. A key word here is solely. Solely means that that would be the end of the discussion. I was not meaning that you ,personally, couldn't continue to discuss the debate but that others/many accept the idiom we're discussing as all that is needed and enough said. They will leave out the word solely but imply that none the less.


The next two sections I've taken from WIKI answers:

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.

I think you mean the ends justify the means which means that the benefits from something outweighs the process attained. For example if somebody cured cancer, but he/she had to kill 1 cancer patient...
The correct idiom is "The end justifies the means", but the statement is inherently untrue; evil methods can never be justified no matter how noble the motive.

I don't believe I can think of any case where I would say "the end justified the means" and let it go at that.
If the means have to be justified one would most assuredly have to come up with something better than "we got the result we wanted and that's all that mattered."

Merda

Pro

My opponent brings one final line of reasoning to support his claim. He says: "evil methods can never be justified no matter how noble the motive." But does he bring any reason for this assmption? No. He only claims that he cannot think of a situation where the ends would justify the means. However he did not respond to my initial example from a few rounds back where I took rule utilitarianism as an example. If we take as a moral axiom that killing is wrong, and then take a second moral axiom that we 'ought' to keep killing to a minimum as much as possible. So to best preserve the rule of not killing, we must kill one person to save 1,000. My opponent never even tried to refute this line of reasoning. Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Merda 5 years ago
Merda
My opponent hasn't been on since he initiated the debate. I wonder what's going to happen.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
ScubaMerdaTied
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Total points awarded:12 
Reasons for voting decision: 1 pt to Scuba, nice topic but nothing more than pure assertion. Tim took this mainly by default. 2 pt.
Vote Placed by ReformedArsenal 5 years ago
ReformedArsenal
ScubaMerdaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con never really made an argument... Pro pointed this out. Easy to call.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
quarterexchange
ScubaMerdaTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con didn't respond to Pro's arguments at all therefore Pro's arguments stood.