Do good intentions rationalize bad actions?

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Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 07:47 pm
This is more of an opinion matter, nothing that really requires deductivity or reasoning. Just kind of a "What do you think?"

Hitler had good intentions, I believe. He wanted to first become general of the German army, in which he succeeded. After that, he wanted to strengthen his army, and get rid of those who he thought to be evil. He had reason too, for the 'stories' he was told about them. He was, in my eyes, mislead. When a mislead man is leading, it ends up in Holocaust. He was only doing what was best to improve what surrounded him. However, he killed and tortured many people, based upon religion and race.

Do you think that, because he was 'mislead' in a way, that his actions are rationalized? Personally, I do not. Everyone grows up in a society where they know that killing is, "wrong". Mental ill-ness and environment played a big role, but I'm sure Hitler knew better :/
 
Theaetetus
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 07:53 pm
@Quinn phil,
His actions are rationalized but not justified. Any action can be rationalized, but justification requires something more. See my latest blog on the subject.

http://www.philosophyforum.com/blogs/theaetetus/645-rationalization-vs-justification.html
 
bmcreider
 
Reply Wed 30 Dec, 2009 07:57 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;115753 wrote:
His actions are rationalized but not justified. Any action can be rationalized, but justification requires something more. See my latest blog on the subject.

http://www.philosophyforum.com/blogs/theaetetus/645-rationalization-vs-justification.html



Completely agree.
 
Sam I Am phil
 
Reply Wed 27 Jan, 2010 07:12 pm
@bmcreider,
Charles Fried wrote that some of the greatest evils are perpetuated in the name of the greater good. That being said, especially using Hitler as an example, we really have to question how unbalanced our view of the world sometimes is. How much misinformation has to be provided for the extermination of an entire religious group to be a logical solution to any problem?
 
jgweed
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 08:41 am
@Quinn phil,
Whether "good" intentions can justify actions is one question; whether we can reliably know what a person's real intentions were (and whether they were actual intentions or not in a causal sense) is another matter.

What we can reasonably know, and make judgments about, are the person's actions.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 09:39 am
@Quinn phil,
Quinn;115750 wrote:
This is more of an opinion matter, nothing that really requires deductivity or reasoning. Just kind of a "What do you think?"

Hitler had good intentions, I believe. He wanted to first become general of the German army, in which he succeeded. After that, he wanted to strengthen his army, and get rid of those who he thought to be evil. He had reason too, for the 'stories' he was told about them. He was, in my eyes, mislead. When a mislead man is leading, it ends up in Holocaust. He was only doing what was best to improve what surrounded him. However, he killed and tortured many people, based upon religion and race.

Do you think that, because he was 'mislead' in a way, that his actions are rationalized? Personally, I do not. Everyone grows up in a society where they know that killing is, "wrong". Mental ill-ness and environment played a big role, but I'm sure Hitler knew better :/
We stamp the name Hitler on a mass event. At one time a common American attitude was that the French caused the event by demanding that the Germans be financially punished after WWI. Both the British and French then stood by as the German economy faltered. They experienced a devaluation of their currency through super-inflation... which deeply effected an entire generation of Germans. This came after WWI, which was a mind-bending experience for Europeans. It actually ended with a mutiny in the German navy. Prior to that, the Germans had struggled with a feeling of inferiority compared to the British and French. Germany wasn't able to form a cohesive state like the British state. A symbol of this was the fact that the Jews couldn't be assimilated, even though the Germans tried to through public education.

In other words... Hitler was born into an ailing society... maybe suffering from the "sickness unto death"... that is, a feeling that things weren't the way they were supposed to be. The devaluation of their currency was like the bottom dropping out from under them. The situation was like a spring-loaded device... the energy was there waiting to be released. Hitler was part of its release.

A basic rule about morality is this: the more you judge, the harder it becomes to understand... because judgment shuts the door on understanding. The purpose of judgment is to set the stage for action.

The more you understand, the harder it becomes to judge... all things are understood to be evolving naturally. The purpose of understanding is to temper judgment.. to make action more effective. Either judgment or understanding, taken to the extreme, leads to a meaningless situation. Meaning comes from interaction between the two.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 11:42 am
@Quinn phil,
Quinn;115750 wrote:
This is more of an opinion matter, nothing that really requires deductivity or reasoning. Just kind of a "What do you think?"

Hitler had good intentions, I believe. He wanted to first become general of the German army, in which he succeeded. After that, he wanted to strengthen his army, and get rid of those who he thought to be evil. He had reason too, for the 'stories' he was told about them. He was, in my eyes, mislead. When a mislead man is leading, it ends up in Holocaust. He was only doing what was best to improve what surrounded him. However, he killed and tortured many people, based upon religion and race.

Do you think that, because he was 'mislead' in a way, that his actions are rationalized? Personally, I do not. Everyone grows up in a society where they know that killing is, "wrong". Mental ill-ness and environment played a big role, but I'm sure Hitler knew better :/


I am not sure that the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions is from the Bible, but whoever said it, said what was true. A great novel about how good intentions can lead to disaster is, Emma by Jane Austen. The movie, Clueless, was based on that novel.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 03:53 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;123477 wrote:
I am not sure that the saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions is from the Bible, but whoever said it, said what was true. A great novel about how good intentions can lead to disaster is, Emma by Jane Austen. The movie, Clueless, was based on that novel.


Here is a link about the proverb, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions":

The road to hell is paved with good intentions: Information from Answers.com

It is not a quote from the Bible.

And yes, regardless of who first said it, it is true. And every book by Jane Austen is worth reading.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 04:01 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;123532 wrote:
Here is a link about the proverb, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions":

The road to hell is paved with good intentions: Information from Answers.com

It is not a quote from the Bible.

And yes, regardless of who first said it, it is true. And every book by Jane Austen is worth reading.


Yes, only some are more worth reading than others. Thanks for the link. If it isn't from the Bible, it should be.
 
Sam I Am phil
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 06:26 pm
@kennethamy,
How does it change the discussion if you flip it, and ask if bad intentions can be overcome by seemingly good actions?

I think we have a lot more pity for those who misunderstand a situation as opposed to those who manipulate it.
 
steffen phil
 
Reply Fri 29 Jan, 2010 07:07 pm
@Sam I Am phil,
There is nothing right when you do things that lead to the destruction of the innocent. Hitler had deliberately arranged things that lead to the killing of little children, with the latter being completely innocent. You can search for a thousand years, but you will never find any concept to heal this evil.
 
Pyrrho
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 01:32 pm
@Sam I Am phil,
Sam I Am;123579 wrote:
How does it change the discussion if you flip it, and ask if bad intentions can be overcome by seemingly good actions?

I think we have a lot more pity for those who misunderstand a situation as opposed to those who manipulate it.


I don't think bad intentions are justified by a good outcome. If a mad scientist tried to murder everyone horribly with some complicated device, that in fact removed all of the pollution from the air and did nothing else, it would not mean that the mad scientist was a good guy. It would mean that he was not only bad, but incompetent at achieving his goals. The machine itself, however, would be a good thing.
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Sat 30 Jan, 2010 03:27 pm
@Pyrrho,
Pyrrho;123707 wrote:
I don't think bad intentions are justified by a good outcome. If a mad scientist tried to murder everyone horribly with some complicated device, that in fact removed all of the pollution from the air and did nothing else, it would not mean that the mad scientist was a good guy. It would mean that he was not only bad, but incompetent at achieving his goals. The machine itself, however, would be a good thing.
Sounds like an episode of Pinky and the Brain. Go mad scientist, go!
 
 

 
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