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Means or End?

Brief Introduction

Sometimes we consider MEANS to be the most important step in judging the action right. For example- In an exam, if a person scores good grades, then we feel proud. In contrast, if a same person has cheated to get a good grade, we feel opposite.

Sometimes we think END to be the most important step in judging an action right. If a thief has saved a toddler from road accident, we are amazed on his present action and then we don’t count his past action.

What to prefer?

MEANS or END phenomenon is very interesting. Sometimes you support MEANS and some time you feel END is better. It’s completely a choice of your situations, conditions, characters, values, and demands. To study means or end adequately is not possible. For this reason, we may divide its studies into various chunks of theories for its better understandings. 

Means is right, End is wrong

Example – Helping a blind man to cross street only to realise that film shooting is going on.

Means is wrong, End is right

Example- Throwing a stone at neighbour’s window glass to trouble him and ending up in helping to escape fire smoke.  

Right Means and End, still failure

Example- Working hard in a factory to earn money for family. But the factory got raided for illegal operations making you to face overall trouble.

Let’s dive deep into some terms in understanding means or end.

  1. Consequentialism– It is a theory which believe in consequences or results as the ultimate factor in deciding the rights or wrongs of a particular case. Its role is mostly observed in legal subjects to decide on final judgements. For example- a murder in innocence or lack of intentionality will still be considered a murder and the punishment would definitely be conferred. The type of punishment to be given is considered after taking other factors based upon deontology and virtue ethics.  
  2. Deontology– It means good and bad depends on the actions and not on its results. Kant believed that right morality is based on the principles of deontology and it is intrinsic. In case, a person is breaking signals on lonely road, then it will be announced as wrong on the principles of deontology.
  3. Utilitarianism – It considers the welfare of large sections of society. With the utilitarian perspectives, universally applicable law is created. For example- environmental projects, civilization projects, education schemes, farmers schemes, etc.
  4. Idealism– For any action, you have some ideas behind it. It is your values or beliefs or thoughts that brings successful completion of an idea. The intention should be morally appropriate. Here end is pre-determined, and means is uncertain. Example: A person wants to win gold medal in country’s sport would do all hardships to make it possible.
  5. Hedonism– In modern hedonism, nothing is considered as end, but means to end of happiness. Charvaka promoted hedonism or pleasure theory to judge every cause. They believe we receive one life, and we should do anything to maximise pleasure. In hedonist principles, drinking, loud music, late night parties are allowed because it makes a person happy.
  6. Gandhian Means or End -Mahatma Gandhi has promoted moral means to achieve an end. For him, achieving virtue is the main award. We can foresee means and have a control over it. However, we couldn’t control end. So, we should take care of means, end will take care of itself.   

    Let’s understand Means or End through some eye-opening examples (It is just for general opinions. The views may vary from person to person)

In present times, space tourism has turned into a luxury than needs. Rich people are spending millions or trillions to secure their seat in a space shuttle and poor people are left behind to look at skies and make prayer to invisible entities. How much right is the means of luxury to reach the end of finding life beyond Earth?

In an interview we speak white lies. We hide our blots, failures, and moments of misfortunes. We only reveal the goody-goody things. How far the means of harmless lies is valid to secure a good employment position?

Doctors telling lies to its patients for their early recovery. Is it good means or bad?
Mining is important for developmental projects. But for mining, forests are cut down. Could the wrong means of mining could challenge the future projects?
Is scolding or slapping your child to improve their habits or performances is right?
We use animals for human experiments to discover medicines or finding reasons for on-going disease. Is using animals for our ends is valid?
Marketing companies purchases products in low prices and then sell it in very high prices. How far the means to grow income is valid?
Is it valid to make our housekeepers do multiple or excess work just because we are giving them salary?
Are we doing right by distributing our torn or old clothes among poorer? How could we give something to others which has turned useless to us? It is the wrong means to attain right ends?

We buy expensive materials from malls or shopping complexes. And then we complain to poor seller of too much price? How far our approach is correct?

I hope you enjoyed this overall outline on means and ends. Feel free to look into the matter with different perspectives. This article is my personal analysis. Therefore, I apologise for any divergence from conventional viewpoints. Thank you for taking the time to read my post.

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Author: Madhvi

A philosopher, Writer, Traveler, PhD Scholar, Vegan and pet-lover.

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