The Effectiveness of a Deed vs. Its Righteousness

Does the effectiveness of a deed outweigh its moral right or wrong?

Let’s say that the War on Drugs in the United States is failing/has failed. Just for argument’s sake.

Does this state of failure give the US the obligation to no longer carry it on? Or are there some deeds that no matter how ineffective or fail-worthy they are they must be carried on for morality’s sake?

Another example: Getting a heroin addict into a clinic who doesn’t want to go, and you know full-well he won’t. Does this knowledge make it a good idea to stop trying?

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

–Comfortably Numb

Stand for right, even if you stand alone. Accepting evil because it is easier then fighting it is evil in and of itself.

What does morality have to do with drug addiction. Not only is the war on drugs a failure, it’s not even ethical.

CN:

DTC hit a cord that a lot of folks on this thread will agree with. Perhaps a better example of your idea might help the debate. However, I’m guessing that I’d agree with Philly. Give us a few more examples and see where that leads.

Every person has their own unique set of morals, and they should be kept personal. Trying to impose your own morality on others is not only wrong, it’s silly. If something doesn’t seem morally wrong to you, having someone else tell you it is does not change that - it would be like someone trying to convince me that I like the taste of liver, or me trying to convince my friend that he likes rye whiskey. Someone could probably force me to eat liver if I feared them, but they couldn’t make me like it. Likewise, I would avoid extramarital sex if I lived in a country that might stone me for it, but it wouldn’t make me see it as wrong, and if I knew I could get away with it I probably would.

Before anyone says I am proposing total anarchy, I think the government should act to protect people from material and physical harm. You may not think it’s morally wrong to steal from me, and I won’t try to convince you otherwise, but I’m going to do what I can to stop you from stealing from me, and that includes supporting a government that will lock you up if you insist on trying.

Show me a single law not based in some notion of morality. Even if we agree to the concept of the “social contract” we all share, there has to be baseline unacceptable actions that society will not tolerate.

Hm. Alright, alright, some other examples to aid discussion, let’s see…

Eh, let’s just cut to the core.

If you are part of a noble effort (pick one, history is lousy with them) that is failing for one reason or another, should you continue on that noble effort? Does the righteousness outweigh the effectiveness, or lack thereof?

Welcome to the Board, chum Numb. Excellent question.

Even when noble effort appears to be not succeeding, it’s seldom clear that it will definitely fail. So, there’s a lot to be said for persevering. Also, your perseverance may inspire others, just as your quitting may discourage others.

If you are certain that your effort is entirely hopeless, then what’s the point? It may help you feel good about yourself, but it won’t help others. If an effort can’t possibly succeed, it’s not really noble.

Ah, I disagree, december. I feel that a noble deed is a noble deed, regardless of the possibility for success. Just because a deed will fail doesn’t make it less noble or not noble at all.

The law enabling you to turn right on a red light. Indeed, how can you know if laws against murder were enacted because it is immoral or just bad for business?

Oh, yeah, the OP.

How do we judge good deeds, anyway? Is giving to the poor a good thing? How about if you give your child’s food money to an addict of whatever stripe which enables them to continue their addiction?

Because if we say that each deed must be judged individually, and that giving to charity in a harmful way isn’t a good deed, then why should giving to charity in a useless way be a good deed?

Wouldn’t it be less noble because it would take away time and resources that could be used successfully in another noble deed?

The problem here is the definition of the term ‘noble’, with regards to this question.

As ** Diogenes the Cynic’s** reply to the OP shows, the morality of any issue is subjective.

A question arises, what if the people this noble cause affects do not find the cause moral should you carry on in that case? even if you are sure 100% the cause is noble.

For the sake of the OP, perhaps we should assume that both the crusader, and the people the crusade affects find the cause noble. But if we assume both parties find the cause noble, how can it fail?

In fact the only time I can see a perceived failure of a noble cause is in the cases in which only the crusaders find the cause noble, and not the people they are crusading for.

If the only noble causes which fail are those in which the people the cause affects do not agree with the morality or nobility of the cause, the question changes in to:

Should a noble cause be aloud to continue of only the crusader find the cause noble?

Is it right to force your morality onto others?

I don’t have an answer to this right now, there are many examples through history in which someone attempting a noble, in their eyes, crusade has hurt people. And yet, if you truly believe something is right, that a system of morals is righteous, how can you possibly keep it to yourself?

Mandatory auto insurance. It was designed to increase insurance company revenue so as to reduce their financial risk. No morality there, just greed.

But how would you propose stopping said Crusader? Let’s say I’m a social worker attempting to help a drug addict get treatment for that addiciton–treatment he doesn’t want. He has no family to urge him, no friends. I know in my heart of hearts that a drug addiction is a bad thing and no matter how unwanted the treatment is, I have to push for it.

But, going on what you said, how would you stop me from wasting my efforts on this noble failure? Arrest me? Fine me? I don’t mean to criticize, but your argument isn’t clear-cut. How can you stop a failing crusader?

Gandhi once said (and I’m paraphrasing here, I don’t remember the verbatim quote) that the fact that a cause may fail does not relieve you of your obligation to try.

CN:

Getting back to the example in your OP, the war on drugs, there is the issue if the “noble deed” actually does more harm than good. Many have argued, and I would agree, that the increased crime (including much murder) induced by the war on drugs is worse than the problem it is trying to solve. I believe the moral of the story (no pun intended) is to choose your “noble deeds” as wisely as humanly possible. Be a bit humble and recognize that sometimes you might be wrong and try to learn from history.

One must be carefull that your noble deed aimed at helping one person or one segement of society does not in fact harm that person or segment of society or anyone else for that matter.

As for gov’t action, I have a very simple philosophy. And that is that gov’ts are instituted in order to prevent people from doing bad things to each other (stealing, killing, etc.), but that gov’ts are not instituted to force people to do good things for each other. Focusing on democratic gov’ts for this argument, I believe that much of the waste and excess of a gov’t is spent on the latter.

CN:

Getting back to the example in your OP, the war on drugs, there is the issue if the “noble deed” actually does more harm than good. Many have argued, and I would agree, that the increased crime (including much murder) induced by the war on drugs is worse than the problem it is trying to solve. I believe the moral of the story (no pun intended) is to choose your “noble deeds” as wisely as humanly possible. Be a bit humble and recognize that sometimes you might be wrong and try to learn from history.

One must be carefull that your noble deed aimed at helping one person or one segement of society does not in fact harm that person or segment of society or anyone else for that matter.

As for gov’t action, I have a very simple philosophy. And that is that gov’ts are instituted in order to prevent people from doing bad things to each other (stealing, killing, etc.), but that gov’ts are not instituted to force people to do good things for each other. Focusing on democratic gov’ts for this argument, I believe that much of the waste and excess of a gov’t is spent on the latter.