Do the ends justify the means?

Cpt_pineapple
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Do the ends justify the means?

What I am asking is:

 

Is it okay to commit horrible acts if it will bring something good long term?

 

Take, for example, the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It ended WWII, but was it justified?

 

Thoughts?

If you think that it was justified why?

If you don't think it was justified why not? 

 To get started, here are my thoughts:

 I don't think it was justified. Germany already surrendered(Or was at least in Allied control), Hitler was dead, was it neccesary to kill Japanese civilians to end the war? I feel Japan would have surrerndered anyway, or it's army would have been defeated.


Gizmo
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Im not a WWII historian so

Im not a WWII historian so this is how I would see if it I was in charge.  Japan, especially its pilots, used kamakazi(sp?) tactics.  This could mean that they were willing to go much further than some militaries.  Such as they would normally not give up till they were all dead.  This would be bad considering we would take a lot of casualties.  However, we now have this new bomb that can take out a huge chunk of people with very little effort on our part.  So we did that, and the war was over because how in the hell do you fight against that? 

Now, you are really asking two things.  That was my answer to your WWII thoughts.  As far as your original premise on whether its ok to do horrible things if its good in the long term, I would say it totally depends.  Using your WWII example, if you had the red button in front of you that would kill 140,000+ like Hiroshima, to save perhaps that much and then some for a war that could have dragged on for months or years more, then I would say Yes.  Now thats somewhat easy as if you had the button, you would be killing the members of your enemy.  If you said it was 70000/70000 from each society that it becomes a much harder choice.  However, if it would save again many more from dying, I would have to at least consider it.  HOwever these hypotheticals are hard to truly answer as one usually would say "Hell no.  I will not hit the button to kill our and their citizens."  However if you were actually under the gun and it was for real, things might be different.

Anyways that is my thoughts on it. 


Cpt_pineapple
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Yeah, the atomic boming was

Yeah, the atomic boming was just an example. You could add your own event (either historical or hypothetical) and say whether or not you think it's justified if you want.


Tyl3r04
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It was the lesser of two

It was the lesser of two evils. We warned japan. We said, "Look, we have a bomb. It is unlike anything you have seen before, and we WILL use it on you. We are giving you this chance to surrender". They said no, so we bombed them at hiroshima. We said again "Look, we don't want to do this, just surrender". They said no, we bombed them again and they finally surrendered. It was either this, or send american troops into japan, which would have resulted in millions of deaths, rather than thousands. It was the lesser of two evils, and unfortunate deed, but a deed that at the time, was the best course of action. I'm not necessarily saying that it was 100% right. But, I believe it was the only course of action that resulted in the least amount of life lost.

"Why would God send his only son to die an agonizing death to redeem an insignificant bit of carbon?"-Victor J. Stenger.


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Tyl3r04 wrote: It was the

Tyl3r04 wrote:
It was the lesser of two evils. We warned japan. We said, "Look, we have a bomb. It is unlike anything you have seen before, and we WILL use it on you. We are giving you this chance to surrender". They said no, so we bombed them at hiroshima. We said again "Look, we don't want to do this, just surrender". They said no, we bombed them again and they finally surrendered. It was either this, or send american troops into japan, which would have resulted in millions of deaths, rather than thousands. It was the lesser of two evils, and unfortunate deed, but a deed that at the time, was the best course of action. I'm not necessarily saying that it was 100% right. But, I believe it was the only course of action that resulted in the least amount of life lost.

Agreed on that.  

On the original premise though, is it right to do horrible things for good in the long term like I said it depends on the cost.  If you do something that kills hundreds but saves thousands, I think its justified.  

Now, again this depends on perception.  Im sure Hitler figured "Well if I get rid of all the jews and those who don't fid this concept that I have for a human being, then good things will be at the end."  Obviously he was delusional, but it brings up the question "Is it right to do horrible things to bring about good, but it depends on what I consider horrible and good."  

Heres an example thats been in recent news.  Im not a big fan of bees.  In fact, one could say I have a phobia of bees.  I don't necessarily pass out or scream, but if I see a bee near me, the first thing I want is it away.  Most people just brush them away, but the few times I was stung as a kid it hurt like nothing before (obviously some of this was perception of pain and a kid but still) so I don't like them.  Anyways, point being is I would like them all to go away.  If they did, I wouldn't have to worry (though I dont like wasps either but I digress).  In my perception that is good.  HOwever, objectively that would be bad (which is why its been in the news).  Fruit would be affected, honey and many other flowers that are pollinated by bees.  

So again, if you want what would be objectively called good, then it really comes down to cost.  Say, going back to WWII and what not, and this is an extreme hypothetical, if someone was given the choice (besides Hitler cause we knew his answer) "You have two choices.  Kill the jews or kill everyone but yourself." then in my mind the answer would be clear.  Kill the smaller of the two.  However, you run into the problem with if you were the one doing it and were a jew.  Then one might consider option two. 

Brett Keane on youtube did a challenge on this recently to theists (specifically two of them, but anyone could answer).  If you assume that god exists, and you believed in him (which is why this was proposed to theists Sticking out tongue), you have two choices.   Either choice, you go to heaven.  First option is, Kill God.  Second option, Kill the entire human race (including yourself, but you get to go to heaven).  

Anyways, just some thoughts on this.   


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I don't think it was

I don't think it was justified to test a devastating new weapon on two civilian targets.
I don't think the general question can be properly answered. It's too vague. It's like asking whether it's OK to kill another human being, when there are various situations in which people would agree it's either justified or not. For instance:
You've stabbed a person to death with a Lord of the Rings replica dagger:
a) in the Mall of America, and because they took the foot massager you were looking at; orb) they were momentarily distracted during their botch invasion robbery your home. 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: Is it

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Is it okay to commit horrible acts if it will bring something good long term?

Yes, somethings cannot be avoided in a hard situation.

Quote:
Take, for example, the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It ended WWII, but was it justified?

Again, yes.  Germany might have surrendered already, but Japan was still fighting a war with us.

We had to choose between another D-Day style invasion of the Japanese Homeland in which countless numbers of people would have died, or dropping a few bombs that would "break" the hold over the people that the Japanese Emperor had over his people.

Leading into the dropping of the bombs we had some knowledge that the civilian population of Japan would have been involved in the fight should we try to land forces on the island.  Civilian populations of the various Islands in the Pacific actively fought against the Allied forces.

Think of it like the movie "Red Dawn."  If there were an attack on the US homeland by a landing military force, a LOT of people here would take up arms in the civilian sector and fight back.

Same with Japan.  In fact, even more so.  At the time, Shinto in Japan had become an Emperor cult due to the influence of Shinto in the government.  At the time of World War II the State religion of Shinto held that the Emperor was a god.

This would have led to an army that basically would have been almost EVERY LIVING BEING on the Islands of Japan against a landing force that would be dwarfed in it's shadow.

Dropping the bomb forced the Emperor to surrender.  Landing a military force on japan would have led to MORE DEATH on BOTH SIDES than the bombs did.

In the case of an impossible situation such as a war, there is no way to avoid horrible acts.  The Blitz of London, the bombing of Dresden, the trench warfare of World War I...  Impossible situations call for hard decisions...

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Tyl3r04
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Well, you see they weren't

edit-nm.


curiousjorge050476
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I would given i had the

I would given i had the proper authority to do so.

 

For example.  If i was a judge tasked to try a felon who is eventually found to be a serial rapist/murderer, then i'd go and give him the death sentence (assuming that the state i'm in allows that).

However, if i was an ordinary citizen, who happens to be in a situation where i see an escaped convict who is a known serial murderer and can kill him and plead self-defence, i'd opt not to do so and just call the cops and have them take care of him.

Of course this is just a pair of scenarios which could go differently in several ways, but that's the gyst of my opinion. 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote: What

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

What I am asking is:

 

Is it okay to commit horrible acts if it will bring something good long term?

 

Take, for example, the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It ended WWII, but was it justified?

 

Thoughts?

If you think that it was justified why?

If you don't think it was justified why not? 

 To get started, here are my thoughts:

 I don't think it was justified. Germany already surrendered(Or was at least in Allied control), Hitler was dead, was it neccesary to kill Japanese civilians to end the war? I feel Japan would have surrerndered anyway, or it's army would have been defeated.

1: I think sometimes the ends can justify the means.
2: I think it depends on the scale of acts you cause compared to the good it will bring.
3: I don't think the bombs dropped on Japan were justified, because civillians were the target. Civillian cities. Shipyards, military bases, or the navy itself would have been a fully acceptable target. Not a city. Some say that the cities had war factories within. Guess what? Most do. If not all.
4: Germany was largely irrelevant regarding the situation. It was in some ways two different wars at the same time. Germany and Japan might have made a nice temporary alliance, but they'd have never coexisted together for long. However, Japan herself was on the verge of surrender when the bombs were dropped.

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Vastet
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Cpt_pineapple wrote:What

Double post

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jmm
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Tyl3r04 wrote: It was the

Tyl3r04 wrote:
It was the lesser of two evils. We warned japan. We said, "Look, we have a bomb. It is unlike anything you have seen before, and we WILL use it on you. We are giving you this chance to surrender". They said no, so we bombed them at hiroshima. We said again "Look, we don't want to do this, just surrender". They said no, we bombed them again and they finally surrendered. It was either this, or send american troops into japan, which would have resulted in millions of deaths, rather than thousands. It was the lesser of two evils, and unfortunate deed, but a deed that at the time, was the best course of action. I'm not necessarily saying that it was 100% right. But, I believe it was the only course of action that resulted in the least amount of life lost.

i can't really think of anything that's absolutely 100% right.   


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If our moral positions are

If our moral positions are informed by reference to human suffering, then we should always seek the solution that is going to minimize suffering across the foreseeable outcomes and time frames. The problem in politics is not usually that people put the ends before the means - it is that the means involve human suffering and the ends, while laudable goals in some sense, do not acheive a commensurate reduction in suffering.

It seems clear that a protracted land war with Japan would have been the solution likely to cause the absolute maximum of suffering, so the bomb drops were probably justified. The choice of cities with civilian populations was harder to understand except from the standpoint of terrorizing the population into refusing to fight any more. It would have been morally more defensible to bomb an isolated military target first, then escalate as necessary. On the other hand, perhaps the administration felt sure that the Japanese government already knew about the bomb and its capabilities, but weren't going to back down unless the civilian population was equally convinced of the hopelessness of fighting on. Basically, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings gave the emperor an "out" to surrender without losing face. 

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triften
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Cpt_pineapple wrote: Is it

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Is it okay to commit horrible acts if it will bring something good long term?

 

 I say no. Never. You end up with ideas like "Hey, lets kill off half the population so that the other half can live in opulence" or "Let's arrest anyone of Middle Eastern descent just in case they're a terrorist." Maybe that's a poor slippery slope argument, but I'm sticking to it for now.

 Also, I'm a big fan of the story of the farmer and the horses from the Tao te Ching. You can never tell how things "turn out" because the story never ends, so to speak. How long term is "long term"?

Cpt_pineapple wrote:

Take, for example, the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan. It ended WWII, but was it justified?

 

 No. Over 100k civilians died from the effects of the bomb (immediate and radiation poisoning) including our soldiers (prisoners) and U.S. citizens (Japanese Americans who were in Japan when the war started.) Also, I feel that the second bomb was unnecessary and came too soon. (Not enough time for the events of the first bombing to sink in to the zeitgeist (sp?).)

Additionally, I was under the impression that the planes "waltzed" over Japan because the Japanese military didn't have the resources to mount a defense. 

 This reminds me of the morality questions wherein you are watching a runaway train coming down a track. The train is about to hit 5 people, or you can divert the train to a side track which will only kill one person. Do you pull the level?

Many people say yes because 5 > 1. I say no because it's not my place to decide that that one person must die.

The followup question gives the options: If you push one person in front of the train (they'll die), it will stop the train from killing 5 others.

Most people say no, despite saying yes to the first question. 

-Triften