06 July 2012

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Does the end justify the means?

Dear friends,

This Sunday we are discussing: Does the end justify the means?

This is a very attractive question and consideration. One of the main reasons that we find this
attractive is that we usually persuade ourselves that we are justified in taking this course because
we are pursuing some good.

One of the most spectacular use of this principle is of course the attack on Japan with atomic
bombs. Today, we are also being persuaded to accept the new doctrine of austerity. Apart from the
butchering of the meaning of this concept, once upon a time it was used for natural disasters or
wars, we are led to believe that by using this magic word we can apply the principle of the "end
justifies the end".

But there are some issues regarding the principle of the end justifies the means. The first of these
is that we might interpret a pseudo good as a good. For example the same attack on Japan with atomic
bombs is often argued as the least harmful consequence to the alternative of invading Japan. But the
only effect of this argument is to justify war since are put into a position of having to excuse a
rather nasty weapon; by definition all weapons are nasty. I propose that the pseudo good of atomic
weapon, especially those used on Japan, should be replaced by the real argument. That is, atomic
weapons are a natural consequence of wars and arms races. Hence, the only end that justifies the
means, in such examples, would be not to start wars in the first place.

An inherent issue with the principle is that we have no guarantees that the end would be achieved
even if the means were reasonable. Indeed, if we do have to resort to such drastic philosophy we
probably have no idea what we have to do, but more importantly, we have very little faith that the
end is achievable.

After all is said and done, we also have to ask a relevant question. Does the principle "the end
justifies the means" a principle that leads to applying the best possible means or rather an
unintended invitation to employ destructive means? Could the allies have blockaded Japan to make it
surrender rather than explode atomic bombs over the country. Could it be that the rescue money some
countries are receiving be used for creating real long term growth rather than giving it to clients
and investors of financial institutions who chose not to intervene during the property bubble?

See you Sunday



PhiloMadrid Meeting
Meet 6:30pm
Centro Segoviano
Alburquerque, 14
28010 Madrid
Metro: Bilbao

Thursday's Open Tertulia in English
Important Notice: From December 1st, the Tertulia will take place at O'Donnells (ex-Moore's) Irish
Pub, c/ Barceló 1 (metro Tribunal)

----------From Luisa---------
Please not you will have to let her know in advance if you wish to attend, thanks:
Data of language exchange,
Location: Café Comercial
Address: Glorieta de Bilbao, 7
Website location:

Dates: on Saturday
Time: from 12:30 to 14:45
Price: 2.50 € (exchange organizing, hiring the top of the cafeteria and coffee, tea, soda, wine or
beer are included).
Luisa - email to confirm please alvarez_luisa@hotmail.com

from Lawrence, Sunday PhiloMadrid meeting: Does the end justify the means?

No comments: