WHEN DOES THE END JUSTIFY THE MEANS?
At least at one point in our lives, each one of us has had to make a poor or dishonest decision. We may have even tried to justify our actions by twisting the truth or thinking that is was for the best in the end, so in a ways satisfy our guilty conscience. These often seemingly small actions do affect who we are and portray our image to those around us. As we enter the professional world there is not much tolerance for little white lies, dishonesty, or justification. Our choices will either make or break us. But, we need to explore if there are instances when it is better to withhold the truth or avoid misleading others when it seems perfectly justifiable. .The mora;l issue stands out When does the end justify the means? Is it acceptable to breach moral, ethical, or legal boundaries to achieve some perceived greater good? Is it morally wrong to sacrifice the few to benefit the many? Consider for example the situation in Iraq.The damage that bombs and bullets have inflicted — the deaths and maimings of thousands of people — is the price of “liberating” Iraq. Can anyone, claim the moral authority to kill or injure one group of people so that another group of people might have better lives?
FIELD OF POLITICS
In politics, people have generally come to believe that as long as theend confines to the law, the means are not consequential and thus canbe overlooked. Minor manipulations in the means for an end that'smorally good are excusable and make no such effect. Yet, in an attemptto achieve the betterment of the nation, the politician himselfaggravates mismanagement and corruption. Indian politics is marked by dynastic succession and lack oftransparency. Thus, it is widely understood that one cannot go farwithout adopting means that are always moral. Such means do helppeople rise without any connections and enter politics, and it is hardto find anyone who hasn't at one point of time or another. Does thatmean we acquit all these people for being dishonest and going againstthe law and remove them from their posts? Or should they be allowed tocontinue? Often, politicians indulge in defection, which means changing ofparties after they have won elections in the name of another party.This leads to instability and is deceit for voters who vote not justfor a candidate but also for a party. But it can also be because ofpositive reasons. The politician may be more recognized in his newparty and consequently produce positive results.So, does the end justify the means?
Most religions preach different ways to attain nirvana or god. Christianity believes in the Day of Judgment, Judaism believes in unity with the Lord through instructions in the Torah. Islam believes in attaining god. However, these means that are preached by different religions are misinterpreted by followers. Many religious groups have been targeted for using violent means to reach their goals. A few examples are : communal riots, majoritarian rule in many non- secular countries, resulting in forceful curtailment of the rights of minority religious groups.
Islam has never preached terrorism in any form however; this religion has come under the firing line for many activities that are globally condemned. Terrorists have various objectives. Some want to end US hegemony while some battle for causes like regional autonomy. Despite whatsoever their ideologies are, they employ extremely violent means and inflict terror on innocent passersby. All nations have come down hard on the various terrorist outfits and are preventing them from achieving their ends.
If one group employs extremely conflicting, selfish and violent means to achieve an end, they are bound to get caught up in the means. As examples in history show, such non- democratic means are bound to be met with opposition and eventually end in social, economic or political turmoil. Hence peaceful democratic and secular means should be adopted in order to campaign for any cause.
FIELD OF MEDICINE
Medically too, there is much debate over whether the ends justify the means. Abortion is legal for many reasons. It gives the mother a choice of whether she would be able to take care of a child, and would be able to satisfy its needs. However, abortion means taking away an unborn foetus's right to life which is morally dubious.
Another debatable topic is that of cloning. Cloning can be used to cure genetic defects, and provide treatment for various diseases and even organs for transplantation. Cloning does have its own disadvantages however. They include inbreeding, social unbalance, and also the fact that for every successful stem cell clone, there could be up to 250 failed attempts.
Chemotherapy is an example where the means do justify the ends, even though the means are very harsh. To kill cancer cells present in the human body, radiation is beamed onto the area affected by the cancer cells. This radiation not only kills the cancerous cells, but also the healthy cells present around it. This causes side effects like hair fall, nausea, loss of appetite, etc. However, with the alternative being a slow death, chemotherapy is used very often to treat cancer patients.
Animal testing is another controversial topic. It is vehemently opposed by animal rights activists, but the alternative to animal testing is either testing on humans, which could cause death or permanent damage, or releasing the medicine to the masses without testing, which is unthinkable.
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Media plays an important role in our lives. News reported by the media has great importance and is an integral part of modern society. Media reports about matters concerning people, governments, politicians, religions, war and terrorism. Media has also played a stellar role in exposing misuse of power and corruption in high places. Media makes people aware of every thing around them. It reports the pros ands cons of various things and thus helps educated people form their opinion. In this way media shapes constructive opinion making. But sometimes media also blows news out of proportion and oversteps its impartial face. In order to get more viewership or readership media tends to sensationalise reporting by commenting on victims’ characters, which not only destroys their reputation but also affects the image of their kith and kin.
· Inner functioning of big offices and institutions.
· Helps in curbing corruption.
· Makes people aware of their rights.
· Some times helps innocent people get out of trouble by finding loopholes in police investigation.
· Sensationalizing news
· Making stands without solid evidence
· Try to gather news unethically just to raise their TRP’S.
· Tendency to sway public opinion
· Highlight personal lives of people and celebrities by spying on them.
IMPORTANT TERMS TO CONSIDER
Consequentialism refers to those moral theories which hold that the consequences of a particular action form the basis for any valid moral judgment about that action. Thus, from a consequentialist standpoint, a morally right action is one that produces a good outcome, or consequence.
Deontological ethics or deontology (from Greek
"obligation, duty"; and -λογία, -logia
) is an approach to ethics
that focuses on the rightness or wrongness of intentions or motives behind action such as respect for rights, duties, or principles, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions. Let justice be done though the heavens fall!
is one of its slogans.
It is sometimes described as "duty" or "obligation" based ethics, because deontologists believe that ethical rules "bind you to your duty".
The term 'deontological' was first used in this way in 1930, in C. D. Broad
's book, Five Types of Ethical Theory.
Deontological ethics is commonly contrasted with consequentialist
ethical theories, according to which the rightness of an action is determined by its consequences.
However, there is a difference between deontological ethics and moral absolutism
Deontologists who are also moral absolutists believe that some actions are wrong no matter what consequences follow from them. Immanuel Kant
, for example, famously argued that it is always wrong to lie – even if a murderer is asking for the location of a potential victim.
Deontologists who are not moral absolutists, also known as Couragists, such as W.D. Ross, hold that the consequences of an action such as lying may sometimes make lying the right thing to do.