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



According to the statement, any means taken to attain a goal are justifiable as long as the goal is worthy. In my view, this statement is too extreme in two aspects: (1) whether a goal is worthy or not may be different to different people; (2) taking any means to attain a goal, even it is worthy, may be potentially harmful.

First, whether a goal is worthy or not is rarely a straightforward issue. The worth of any goal depends on one's personal value system and personal interest. Consider, for example, a factory that is polluting a river with toxic effluents. Managers of the factory may view the pollution as something trivial, when compared to making more money. But the economic activists and people who live nearby the river tend to think that protecting river is more worthy. Because the manager of the factory and the economic activists and the residents have different value system and interest, their goals are conflict. In short, the worth of a goal is subjective, depending largely on how one's personal value system and interests are affected by it.

Second, taking any means to attain a goal, even though it is worthy, may be counter-productive. One goal that anyone would adim it is good and worth doing is that, when a child is very young and knows nothing, parents should avoid her eating too many candies. To achieve this goal, parents could lie to her that eating too many candies will lead to stomach aches. However, if the child happened to eat many candies and surprised to see that she doesn't get stomach aches, she will not believe her parents. And the next time, if the parents tell her that she should eat more vegetables instead of meat or she will get sick, she will not listen anymore. In this case, when attaining a goal, not any means are justifiable. People should avoid cheating, lying, or any unrighteous means.

Moreover, taking any means to achieve a goal may cause serious consequences, like egregious criminal conducts. Returning to the first example about pollution. If the economic activists and the residents want to stop the factory from polluting the river, what should they do? Should they have physical confrontations with the staff in the factory, or should they bomb the factory and cause potential murder? Of course not. If they do so, even though protecting the environment is a major consensus, they still cannot escape the judge by the law. What they should do is to solve the conflict legally, negotiating with the factory, or using the laws.

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ESSAY REVIEW

Your first argument raises the question of the difficulty of deciding whether a goal is worthy or not. It is a matter, in your view, of subjective judgment, "depending on one's personal value system and personal interest." The problem with this argument is that its relevance is not clear. Of course that relevance is not clear because you don't clarify its relevance; you don't explain how this view of the relative character of determinations of worth impacts your assessment of the original statement. But the relevance is also not clear because the original statement doesn't really demand that one be able to tell whether a goal is worthy; the first part of the statement is a conditional (if a goal is worthy ...). In principle, I could agree with you that it is always difficult to know whether a goal is really worthy, and I could agree that different people will have a different opinion on the matter, and yet I could still think that if a goal really were worthy, then the means would be justified.

Your next argument has a similar problem to the first in that, as an argument, it is incomplete. You point out that "taking any means to attain a goal ... may be counterproductive" and you illustrate this claim with an example of a child who is encouraged to become skeptical of her parents pronouncements. Your argument here seems to be that the goal does not justify the means because the means may produce a different outcome from that intended. It seems to me that that still leaves the essential question unanswered: What if lying to a child really does in some particular case achieve the desired goal? What if the child stays away from candy, adopts a reasonable diet, and ends up free of any diseases associated with poor nutrition? In that case, is the original lie justified? If not, why not? If you want to argue (a la Kant) that it is always wrong to lie, even for the sake of procuring a positive outcome, that would be fine, but then you need to actually make that argument.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: tomato_cat
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