Ends and Means – Again

The Challenge: I don't agree that the end justifies any means used. And by that, I mean, "It is NEVER OK to do something evil in order that the result be a good one.

The Reply: There is no requirement to agree with my position. Certainly, you are free to form any opinion you wish about any issue. I should like here to point out a few issues that I have with your response:

Your original question was: “Does the end justify the means?” Your response points to a different question; one that likely would be worded in this fashion: “Is it OK to do something evil in order that the result be a good one?” I submit that by incorporating modifiers in your statement you are referring my words to a question that was not asked.

A Comment: In your case of taking the ladder, I am sure that you did nothing wrong.

A Response: I refer you to my original response, in which I established the context for my ladder example:

In many societies, certainly in America, law protects a person’s property. In many situations, it is illegal to knowingly take without permission what belongs to another.

In this context, my taking the ladder could be viewed by some as an illegal act. Given that Christians are to respect the law, (Romans 13) could not my failure to respect the law be viewed as a failure to conform to the teachings our Lord left us? In any case, whether my taking the ladder was wrongdoing or not would be an issue to be judged by the neighbor, by law enforcement agencies and, ultimately, by our Lord.

Another Comment: You saw the ladder in the open garage, and you had NO intention whatsoever to steal it, but to use it as it was intended.

Another Response: My response did not include information as to my intentions concerning the ladder, other than to use it to rescue the child. Given that, how can you be certain what my intentions were? I never suggested that I returned the ladder to the garage after bringing the child safely down. In the absence of contradicting information, it is also possible to argue that I tied the ladder to the roof of my car and drove off with it.

A Third Comment: As to going into an open garage? My neighbors do it all the time at my house, in order to get to my back door.

A Third Response: This statement is a non sequitur. Whether or not your neighbors “do it all the time” at your house has no bearing on the situation in my example. In your statement, you provide no information concerning whether you have communicated to your neighbors that they may approach your back door through your open garage. In my hypothesis, I provided no information to suggest that the owners of the neighboring house approved or disapproved of strangers, and in particular me, entering their garage without first seeking their permission. I also never provided information as to whether or not I had sought their permission beforehand. I invite you to consider your likely reaction should a total stranger enter your garage and attempt to enter your back door.

A Fourth Comment: So, you did nothing evil in that instance, and I don't know of any law that says you cannot go into someone's garage

A Fourth Response: This, of course, is your opinion of my actions within the hypothetical situation that you created. It appears to me that, in the context of this post, you are equating “evil” with “wrongdoing” which may, in this case, refer to violating or invading the legal rights of another. In any case, I entered the habitation of a third party and took possession, albeit temporarily, of something that was not mine. As a consequence of my actions, a child was saved from injury or death. The result may be viewed as “good.” Whether my actions were “good” or not, I submit that the end justified the means.

A Fifth Comment: In such a case, you would have to say that you cannot go up to someone's front door either, since the property is someone else's.

A Fifth Response: Is this non sequitur a syllogism?

Syllogism: A species of reasoning by which from the fact that something particular is seen to be comprehended under something more universal it is concluded that the predicate of the more universal agrees or does not agree with the particular: Thus:

Every animal is sensitive;

But man is an animal;

Therefore man is sensitive.

The principles upon which the syllogism is founded are, “Said of all” and “Said of none.” (Donald Attwater, Ed., A Catholic Dictionary, The Macmillan Company © 1942)

Or is it sophism? Which is

A captious argument which is a true syllogism and therefore distinct from paralogism, which has only the appearance of the syllogism; but it tells a lie because truth is not contained in its premises and cannot therefore be deduced from them… (Ibid.

In either case, I have reached my usual limit for posting to a thread.. Please know that I have no ego involvement with my original post and am in no way discomfited by your disagreement. Though your arguments gave me cause to examine what I had written, they have not convinced me to revise my position. I doubt that my arguments will sway you. Let us therefore agree to let our discussion of this issue end here.

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