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If A Goal Is Worthy, Then Any Means Taken To Attain It Are Justifiable - With A Free Essay Review



Instructions: “Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position.”

I disagree with the statement that if a goal is worthy, then any means taken to attain it are justifiable, because if the means taken to attain the goal are against the will of the majority, or the consequences are destructive, or these means are against the moral value, then, these means should not be justifiable.

First of all, the statement is not specific about the meaning of the phrase “a goal is worthy.” Does this mean it is worthy to a specific group of people or it is worthy to the majority? If the goal is only worthy to a group of people, then, we need to evaluate the specific problem. For instance, during the second world war, Nazis considered it is worthy to announce the war against many countries in the Europe, and in order to achieve that goal, they invaded France, Poland, etc. However, this goal was only worthwhile to Nazis, while it was against the will of the majority of Europeans. In this case, since the goal is only worthwhile to a small group of people while was against the vast majority, then, any means to attain this goal should not be justifiable.

In addition, even if we granted that the goal is worthy to the majority, we still need to consider if the mean to attain this goal can result in destructive consequences in long run. For instance, a local government decides to increase the revenue and employment opportunities by lumbering the nearby forests. The goal sounds worthy and beneficial. However, in order to maximize the revenue, the local government decides to lumber excessively ignoring the negative effects on the environment. Then, by this means, it can result in destructive consequences such as destroying the habitats of many local species, and this would not benefit the society in long run. For this reason, even if the goal is currently worthy, the means, which can potentially result in destructive consequences later on, is not justifiable.

Moreover, even if the goal is worthy, we need to consider if the means a person chooses to attain the goal is against the moral value. For instance, a student, who wants to get a good grade on one course, decides to cheat during the final to attain the goal. Although the goal of getting good grade is encouraged, the means that students chooses is not justifiable, because, that means is against the moral value.

However, I’m not arguing that the people cannot attain their goals via various means. However, I do believe that even if the goal is worthy, people still should consider whether means they choose to attain their goals are against moral values, or can result in destructive consequences or not.

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Essay Review

I agree that the phrase "worthy goal" lacks precision but presumably the meaning is "worthy in itself" rather than "worthy for certain others" (what "worthy in itself" means, however, is still arguable). Otherwise the debate is really meaningless, as I think your first argument demonstrates. There is nothing especially challenging about trying to decide if Nazi aggression was justifiable, and it's just not a very good example for dealing with the issues raised by the original claim. A much better example, for instance, would be whether the attempt to assassinate Hitler (an illegal, traitorous, and possibly, in absolute terms, immoral act) was justifiable in light of the intended goal of ending a horrifically murderous regime.

Your second argument seems to sneak in surreptitiously an unnecessary and unhelpful distinction between negative means and means with negative consequences in order to fabricate another argument, one that in truth seems to beg the question. The original claim is essentially that good ends justify otherwise unjustifiable actions. Actions that lead to the destruction of habitats are examples of "otherwise unjustifiable actions," so the real question is whether such actions are justified by the ends. To say they are not justified because such destruction may have further negative impact on society seems a bit disingenuous.

Your final argument suggests that the means are not justifiable if they are essential immoral even if the goal is worthy. The only problem with that argument is that it isn't really an argument, it's just an assertion; and it is another example of begging the question. The real question that you need to answer here is whether the ends justify immoral means; you cannot reasonably answer that question by saying, No, the ends don't justify the means in that case because the means are immoral. The example doesn't help much in this case, either, because there is no real dilemma involved. What if I cheat on an examination not in order to get a good grade for myself but just to give my terminally-ill mother the illusion that her child, for whom she has sacrificed her entire adult existence, has finally come good so that she can die with a smile on her poor face?

You need examples that do justice to the difficulty of the question, and arguments that do the same.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: uofr6460
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