The Instigator
Lolagirl57
Pro (for)
Losing
7 Points
The Contender
rougeagent21
Con (against)
Winning
21 Points

The end justifies the means

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
rougeagent21
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/22/2009 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 22,616 times Debate No: 7936
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)

 

Lolagirl57

Pro

The Greek writer Sophocles wrote "The end excuses any evil." In other words, the end justifies the means, and this is what I will be arguing. In this case, the end is the final result and the means are what you use or do to get to the final result. In simpler terms, this means that most anything is reasonable if it leads to an important and meaningful result. A couple points on why this is true;

First, if the goal you are working for is important enough, then the means used to get there may not be desirable, but necessary to achieve the overall good end. For instance, look at capital punishment. Ted Bundy was a serial killer who killed between 29 and 100 people. He had already escaped prison twice, so he was sentenced to death by electric chair. If you start to feel sorry for him, think about some of his victims, like 17 year old Laura Aime or Debby Kent. If Ted Bundy was still alive, hundreds more people could have been murdered. So yes, someone was killed, but with that one death, many lives were saved which I believe is a good enough end to justify the means.

My opponent will try and tell you that the end doesn't justify the means in the case of war. They will ask if the sacrifice of many people is worth gaining land or just killing other people. These are valid points, but in a necessary war many people die, but many more will be saved by the sacrifices made in this war. For example, in the case of the Holocaust, millions of people died. Of the eight to ten million Jew in Nazi-controlled areas, about 70 percent of them were killed. How were the remaining Jewish people saved? By ending the war, which involved the deaths of some people but in the end, saved many more lives than were lost. Again, if the goal you are working for is important enough, then the means used to get there may not be ideal or wanted, but necessary to achieve the overall good end.

As a second point, there is a fine line between a morally "good" end and a morally "bad" end. We classify a "good" end as something that is noble and helpful. A "bad" end is something that is selfish and harmful. If the end is on the right side of this line, then we are justified in seeking it and using non-ideal means to get there. For example, NFL player Ryan Moats was driving with his wife to the hospital to see his mother in law before she died. In his hurry to get there, he turned on a red light, but he did it in such a way so that no one was hurt. So, yes, he did something illegal, but he did it so he could get to his mother-in-law before she died, which is surely on the right side of the morally acceptable line.

As another example, in George Orwell's Animal Farm, Farmer Jones gets hopelessly drunk and neglects feeding the animals all day. One of the cows breaks down a door to the store-shed, and several of the animals begin to help themselves from the bins. So they broke the rules and smashed the door and took the food, but the end was not starving, which seems like a perfectly acceptable end to me. Now, if the animals had already been fed and were just being greedy and trying to get more, then this would not be an acceptable end.

In conclusion, sometimes the means are perhaps not desirable, but necessary to achieve a "good" end and if the end is on the right side of the moral line, then, even if the means are not what you would normally do in a situation, they are indispensable in a particular position to achieve the "good" end. So, in the words of Sophocles, "The end excuses any evil," but an evil end will not. Otherwise known as the end justifies the means. Thank you.
rougeagent21

Con

Alright, lets get started. In this round I will address some points of my opponent's case, and ask him a few questions. This will aid in the further clarification of the debate to make the voting decision clear to the viewers.

"First, if the goal you are working for is important enough, then the means used to get there may not be desirable, but necessary to achieve the overall good end. "

First of all, the term "important enough" is completely subjective. My opponent must define what this really means. Secondly, I will soon show you that some "undesirable" means are not in fact justified, even if they are in an effort to achieve a good end.

"My opponent will try and tell you that the end doesn't justify the means in the case of war. They will ask if the sacrifice of many people is worth gaining land or just killing other people."

In the future, please do not put words into my mouth. I will say what I mean, and would appreciate it if you would not make an argument out of something that came out of your mouth. (Or computer in this case) Further, if desired by my opponent, I will in fact provide examples such as my opponent has listed that do not agree with Sophocles' theory.

"As a second point, there is a fine line between a morally "good" end and a morally "bad" end. We classify a "good" end as something that is noble and helpful. A "bad" end is something that is selfish and harmful. If the end is on the right side of this line, then we are justified in seeking it and using non-ideal means to get there."

So just to clarify here, you are saying that if an end is "good," then we may use ANY less-than-ideal means to achieve it?

"As another example, in George Orwell's Animal Farm, Farmer Jones gets hopelessly drunk and neglects feeding the animals all day. One of the cows breaks down a door to the store-shed, and several of the animals begin to help themselves from the bins. So they broke the rules and smashed the door and took the food, but the end was not starving, which seems like a perfectly acceptable end to me. Now, if the animals had already been fed and were just being greedy and trying to get more, then this would not be an acceptable end."

Interesting enough. I agree with you on this point that, IN THIS INSTANCE, the "less-than-ideal" measures taken did justify the end. This example however is not enough to prove the theory as a whole. I will expand further in the next round. On to the questioning.

Question #1- Who decides if an end is "important enough?"

Question #2- Are the means justified to achieve an important end, EVEN IF the means cause more harm than the good

in the end? If so, who decides what "harm" and "good" are done?

Question #3- "The end excuses any evil" Do you truly wish to stand with ANY evil?

Thank you for your time, and I eagerly await your response.
Debate Round No. 1
Lolagirl57

Pro

Thank you so much, rougeagent21. One quick point before I get started, my user name is Lolagirl57; hence I am a girl and a "her". You referred to me as a "him". Sorry, but I felt a need to tell you that.
Anyways, let me address some of the points you made about my points-

"First of all, the term "important enough" is completely subjective. My opponent must define what this really means."

I realize that "important enough" is subjective, but as I classify later on in my argument, the end needs to be a "good" end, which is something that is noble and helpful. Important enough is generally something selfless and for the good of the majority of the people.

"Secondly, I will soon show you that some "undesirable" means are not in fact justified, even if they are in an effort to achieve a good end."

I would appreciate this example, not just a vague reference.

"In the future, please do not put words into my mouth. I will say what I mean, and would appreciate it if you would not make an argument out of something that came out of your mouth. (Or computer in this case)"

I apologize.

"Further, if desired by my opponent, I will in fact provide examples such as my opponent has listed that do not agree with Sophocles' theory."

I do indeed desire these examples if you please.

"So just to clarify here, you are saying that if an end is "good," then we may use ANY less-than-ideal means to achieve it?"

No, this is not what I was trying to say necessarily. If the means are truly bad, then it would almost defeat the purpose of the "good" end to use these means.

"Interesting enough. I agree with you on this point that, IN THIS INSTANCE, the "less-than-ideal" measures taken did justify the end. This example however is not enough to prove the theory as a whole."

Okay, thank you, but did you have any comments on the other examples? With the serial killer, the Holocaust, or the Ryan Moats story? Because I noticed you had no comments for those. Please, share your thoughts and tell me if, in those instances, the less-than-ideal measures taken justify the ends.

"Question #1- Who decides if an end is "important enough?""

We can only hope that people have enough common sense to figure out what is "important enough" by themselves. But if they can't, then I guess the jury and judge decide if the end is important enough in a legal situation.

"Question #2- Are the means justified to achieve an important end, EVEN IF the means cause more harm than the good in the end? If so, who decides what "harm" and "good" are done?"

I believe I addressed this earlier on in this statement, but, again, if the means are truly bad, then they defeat the purpose of the "good" end. Besides, if what you are striving for is in fact "good" then the means can't be that bad after all.

"Question #3- "The end excuses any evil" Do you truly wish to stand with ANY evil?"

These are the words of Sophocles and I don't mean to say it will support ANY evil; just that many lesser evils can be justified by a greater good.

Thank you so much and I can't wait to read what you write next.
rougeagent21

Con

My argument this round will be short, sweet, and to the point. Lets begin by defining a few terms.

The End-
My opponent puts limitation on this as being right, moral, and correct.

Excuses-
pardons, makes amends for

Any-
Excluding none

Evil-
morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked

All definitions are taken from the American Heritage dictionary.

So what my opponent tells you is that our goal is to achieve an important, moral end. This end is good. The goal is goodness.

She also says that we may excuse ANY EVIL to achieve this MORAL END.

If the goal is a moral end, forfeiting morality in the process undermines the whole system, thus NOT achieving morality.

For example:

My sister is dying. She needs a new heart. Is searching for and getting her a new heart so that she would live moral?
Absolutely.
Am I morally justified in killing a woman down the street to get that heart?
Absolutely not. The end does not justify the means.
Debate Round No. 2
Lolagirl57

Pro

Lolagirl57 forfeited this round.
rougeagent21

Con

Please extend all I have said. Given that my opponent has forfeited, I would urge a negative ballot. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by piggy555 4 years ago
piggy555
Go Pro!
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Shame.
Posted by wjmelements 5 years ago
wjmelements
A good idea for a debate.
Posted by Justinisthecrazy 5 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
the ends NEVER justify the means
Posted by Lolagirl57 5 years ago
Lolagirl57
That is not the point of this debate. A bad end does not justify bad means. which is why i put limitations on the statement :the end justifies the means"
Posted by I-am-a-panda 5 years ago
I-am-a-panda
Killing every human on earth to prevent wars and human suffering is not a justified end. Furthermore, PRO must defend all end of all means. Even those of Hitler, Bush, Mussolini and Stalin.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by Justinisthecrazy 5 years ago
Justinisthecrazy
Lolagirl57rougeagent21Tied
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Vote Placed by TFranklin62 5 years ago
TFranklin62
Lolagirl57rougeagent21Tied
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Vote Placed by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Lolagirl57rougeagent21Tied
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Vote Placed by rougeagent21 5 years ago
rougeagent21
Lolagirl57rougeagent21Tied
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Total points awarded:07