Do the ends really justify the means.

I have an interesting problem to deal with one of my best friends. At least from an intellectual standpoint he is willing to take the stand that in a war you can do whatever you want and that force is acceptable in all situations as a leader. Here is my arguments.

If you are fighting a war and you use evil to save the state than whats the point. The state is there for the people. If people are not happy and are oppressed than you have already lost the war. Some security measures are necessary but if innocent people left and right are going to jail or worse its too much.

The ends do not justify the means. Difficult decesions are made in war and the decisions one makes in war are terrible however if you choose to forget the people and win at all costs even very noble ends will be tainted by the choices such a leader made.

People who believe in this usually suffer in the end. People like Stalin have no friends are remembered badly but with all the paranoia you cannot live.

These are my key arguments I realize that you cannot change certain people because they are to stubborn but I would like to see alternate arguments against and perhaps for. My friend does not really understand consistantcy in arguing ones philosphy. Anyways thanks for any help you can give.

Do the ends justify the means? Depends on the ends and what constitutes justification.

First and foremost, the objective of a leader in a war is to preserve his or her people. If the people are not preserved, THEN the war is pointless.

The most problematic things about modern warfare is that they are nationalistic as opposed to idealistic (in the past, nationality and ideology were so closely linked it didn’t make a difference). Leaders are protecting nationalities instead of ideologies. From the perspective of G.W.B, it would appear that the protection of the American people as living organisms is more important than the protection of the ideals that America has traditionally stood for. It could be the case (as many left-wing thinkers charge) that it’s not even about protection but is rather about POWER, that all this patriot-act stuff is just the religious Right getting off on being in power.

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that GWB actually believes he is doing good for the country.

If you want to debate with your friend about the ethics of GWB’s tactics, you can take a few angles:

  1. Attempt to show that he is not making the people safer, thereby not accomplishing his ends.
  2. Attempt to show that the ideals are in greater danger than the people, such that he is pursuing the wrong ends.
  3. Attempt to show that he is not actually TRYING to make the people safer, so that he is actually pursuing different ends than those stated.
  4. Mix all the above: he is not making the people safer, he should be protecting our ideals, and he is not trying to do either (though that could take a lot of work to prove).

Hope this helps.

Thanks a lot. You inspired to do some more research on logic. I want to improve my logic skills so I think I am going to go back and read on logic.

Good luck, Paladin; logic can be very useful in arguments. But be warned of one thing: not everyone you will argue with will play by the rules of logic, so you may have to explain to them why certain fallacies are wrong. I once spent nearly an hour trying to explain to someone why “ad hominem” arguments (arguments which attack the character of a person rather than the logic of their argument) are invalid; my failure to get him to understand it is either a testament to his thickheadedness or my poor explanatory skills. So be warned.

Funny you should mention ad hominem… just a week ago i got into this discussion with a classmate and i tried to explain to him the fallacy of an ad hominem argument…

This is what I used to explain… “if a compleate idiot, who is wrong 90% of the time, were to say that 1+1=2… would he be wrong?”

He actually reponded: “There’s a 90% chance!” LOL

It’s been a week but i’m still laughing at that one… I wish you could have all seen his face when he said it… he had this smug “I’m so smart” look on his face as he said it too… oh never mind… Just take my word for it… it was funny! :laughing:


I’d say the ends always Justify the means… interresting bit is when the means become an end onto themselves


you could also attempt to show how certain tactics, while from one persepctive can be seen as defense of a certain body, is also badly infringing on, if not falling over the boundaries regarding a democracy.

Rove and Bush work in such a poltical manner as such that it can be seen as… cutthroat. While it is intellectual and to be commended as such, it is sneaky, it’s perpetual and if gets to the point where you see things like Bush’s brother counting the election.

Nowadays, with the research available from massive data banks like Acxiom, the roundabout rhetoric we’ve all come to expect from politicians actually revolve around key words and visual devices designed to hammer straight to our unconscious (or at least the unconscious of the average joe smith). Focus groups, phone research, questionaires - companies will pay huge money for certain triggers, and that is not so bad… but when politicians (and more importantly families) can buy and use these things to gain a perpetual ongoing advantage things turn towards a more tyranny/monarchy type deal.

The Bush Family is quite wealthy and quite involved in well… the world. I’m not saying they arn’t smart people, perhaps they are too smart because they have a very powerful tool, one that is putting us on the threshold of a new political landscape. When you’re powerful, and on the top, all you can really strive for is more power. The US don’t sit around waiting for attacks and maybe even a ridiculous notion of peace. They take the fight straight to the doorstep, both its citizens and overseas.

When information and opinions become nothing more than what certain data has -told- you to say, to achieve -your- means then how can the ends be justified? It’s like someone reading your mind and saying 'Hi I’m Senator so and so, and I’d like to talk to you about this. Ok… maybe it’s not -that- bad but technology is already to the point where companies are mapping out where you’ll be in 10 years, even if you’re often unaware of the quantitative stats you would predict. We’re moving in a direction that in terms of political philosophy is very disturbing because as advertisements continually get more and more specific, provoking at our baser instincts, we are no longer taking in information, we are being overcome by it’s sheer brilliance and TOLD what to do - the archetecture for the gates of this poltical threshold I speak of.