Means and ends
class of ethical theories which hold that morality is determined solely by the consequences of actions
Quotations about the ethical proposition that "the ends justify the means:"
- To say that corrupt means corrupt the ends is to believe in the immaculate conception of ends and principles.
- Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971), p. 24
- The Ninth Rule of the ethics of means and ends is that any effective means is automatically judged by the opposition as being unethical.
- Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals: A Practical Primer for Realistic Radicals (1971), p. 35
- The first sign of corruption in a society that is still alive is that the end justifies the means.
- Georges Bernanos, The Last Essays of Georges Bernanos (1955), "Why Freedom?"
- A man wants to earn money in order to be happy, and his whole effort and the best of a life are devoted to the earning of that money. Happiness is forgotten; the means are taken for the end.
- Does the end justify the means? That is possible. But what will justify the end? To that question, which historical thought leaves pending, rebellion replies: the means.
- Albert Camus, The Rebel (1951)
- Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem, in my opinion, to characterize our age.
- Albert Einstein, Out of My Later Years (1950), ch. 14
- He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determine the end.
- Harry Emerson Fosdick, Living Under Tension (1941), p. 111
- Given the means, we hang on to them and often forget the ends.
- Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition (1973), Aphorism 121
- ... had I taken the line, so often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the result.
- St. Jerome, Letter 48: "To Pammachius" (393 or 394 A.D.)
- The end justifies the means. But what if there never is an end? All we have is means.
- Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven (1971), ch. 6
- I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations.
- C. S. Lewis, The World's Last Night (1952)
- As my poor d'Artagnan used to swear, the importance of the end justifies the meanness of the methods.
- Paul Mahalin (published under the name of Alexandre Dumas), The Son of Porthos: or, The Death of Aramis (1883), ch. 12: "Any Port in a Storm"
- If the end doesn't justify the means, what does?
- Often it is means that justify ends: Goals advance technique and technique survives even when goal structures crumble.
- Alan Perlis, "Epigrams on Programming", #64, ACM SIGPLAN Notices 17 (9), September 1982
- A means can be justified only by its end. But the end in its turn needs to be justified.
- Leon Trotsky, Their Morals and Ours (1938)