Does the end justify the means?

I watched a show last nite on the history channel about unit 731 of the Japanese army during WW2. They were the unit who handled chemical and biological warfare, here is a link that shows the depth of their atrocities…

Unit 731

It seems the American government wanted their research more than they wanted to try them for war crimes. So they let them walk in exchange for the research. My question is…Is this a good thing? Should the government look the other way just to take advantage of “freebies” like this? In my opinion it sucks, puts us in bed with those monsters. Your thoughts?

If you can’t convince them, confuse them.
Harry S. Truman

I would agree, especially since they should have been punished for those atrocities.

Gee, the US government dealing with the enemy?

Next thing you know, we’ll be trading arms for hostages, or satellite codes for campaign contributions or something…

Yer pal,

This reminds me of Project Paperclip, where Nazi scientists were permitted to enter the U.S. and work here after the war. I’m sure Cecil covered this in one of his columns but I couldn’t find it.

i think we should have taken the secrets, then punished them.

how come genocide is ok in war, but lying isn’t?

Because we want to be thought of as a nation of honest mass-murderers!

I haven’t checked out the links yet, but I’m going to provide an answer to the question posed in the title of this thread.


The end *does[i/i] justify the means.

However, the end is also defined by the means. Tainted means produce tainted ends.

The whole idea of; “The end justifies the means” is a communist expression.
So no, I don’t put it past our government to do something like that.

Jedi-667? The phrase, in English, can be traced back to Matthew Prior in 1700 (about 150 years before Karl Marx was espousing his theories) and has roots at least as old (in Latin) as St. Jerome around the year 400.

I’ve seen several of your posts since you signed on, this morning. While I welcome you to this MB and hope you can become a valued addition, I would strongly urge you to lurk for a bit and see the tenor (or even the soprano) of the discussions, here.

So far, your posts have not exactly demonstrated that you have a really firm grasp of your material. I’m afraid that at your current rate, you are going to meet an awful lot of hostility very soon.


Jedi-667, your farce is strong, young poster.

While I would say that the end rarely justifies the means, in this case we don’t have enough information to draw a conclusion. The answer would depend on several factors, like 1) Would there have been an additional cost of allied lives to forcibly take the documents?;and 2) Would the research have been destroyed had the Allies prosecuted the Unit 731?

The fact is that war, especially after the introduction of gunpowder, has been the catalyst for major advances in medicine. Human nature is such that we highly prize salvaging something “good” from something “evil” - so highly that we are tempted to overlook the ethics of the whole.

The overwhelming majority of people have more than the average (mean) number of legs. – E. Grebenik