brian, you got dogged early on in coming to the SDMB, but I for one am really starting to appreciate your posts (though they are, perhaps, a little flowery? ;)).
You are also really getting to the root of it, though guinastasia’s Prince comment finds its way in well as well. We know the ends don’t always justify the means, but what I’m wondering is what justifies the means? Must what justifies the means be the same thing that justifies the end?
Consider, we desire a specific result. We have many options to achieve this end. Some are moral but intensely difficult, others are easy but immoral. Somewhere there is a strange situation… we find a solution where the means themselves are moral, but only because if we were to do them we would intend some specific end. Yet we can, instead, have someone else do something, which to this person would be accomplished for another reason entirely…his end would be entirely seperate to ours.
That is, this new person doesn’t care about our end. His principles are different at least in this respect, if not in all ways. And yet he would do something that we would do. Can we utilize this person and his principles; though the principles are at odds, if the means and ends are the same, or no worse, is there something wrong with this?
Consider it as Occam’s razor of action, so to speak. Or, as was said in the movie “Scream,” “Motives are incidental.”
I like the software analogy, though I would use “firmware” if pressed to the issue
jmull, it isn’t quite a question of good and bad. It is the morals themselves which determine this, you see? As well, the good-bad polarity is permeated by the neutral amoral action/thought/deed. So what we have isn’t “This is bad so don’t do it,” but instead, “The result is good to us, the means are good to us. If someone who could care less performs the action does this in some way weaken the point, remove the goodness?”
Hmmm. This brings up an even stranger question…if we have decided a course of action that has unintended consequences, do we stop immediately or carry on?
These are questions of degree, of course. Sometimes the ends may very well justify the means. Hmmmmm…