Do Ends Justify Means?

Sometimes. If, for example, the end is the preservation of innocent human life, and the means (or some of them) are the prohibition of abortion and the right to bear arms.

Sometimes not. If for example, the end is “equality” and the means are such things as racial preferences and income redistribution. Stealing from others doesn’t make a person equal to them, except perhaps ephemerally — a job is gained (though probably to be lost), a certain amount of income is gained (though probably to be squandered). “Equality” is just a slogan, a sloppy excuse for theft. It is not the moral equivalent of  preserving innocent human life.

Sometimes. If the end is liberty and the means include killing to gain or defend it.

Sometimes not. If the end is the subjugation of others and the means include killing, enslavement, muzzling, threatening, or otherwise oppressing those others.

As Leon Trotsky put it:

The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justifies the end.

By their ends you shall know them.

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