Does the End Justify the Means

Topics: Stanford prison experiment, Milgram experiment, Psychology Pages: 4 (1267 words) Published: January 25, 2011
Lesley Rawlins The end justifies the means The end justifies the means is an expression that is often used in society to validate or excuse distasteful and objectionable actions undertaken by its people. In effect, the phrase is a justification for dispensing with all morality and principle in the passage towards a successful conclusion. The Greek writer Sophocles wrote in Electra 409 BC “the end excuses any evil." This was a thought later considered, by the Roman poet Ovid, ‘the result justifies the deed' (c. 10 B.C.). In simpler terms, anything is reasonable if it leads to a significant and meaningful outcome. The term has been used to explain actions and behaviours ranging from cheating to pass an exam, stealing to feed a starving child, carrying out tests on animals to increase medical knowledge and even the nuclear bombing that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War 2, The devastation of these cities along with huge civilian fatalities was sanctioned to bring forward the close of the war. Milgram, a psychological researcher conducted an experiment in 1963 which was influenced by the holocaust. Milgram wanted to establish what factors led ordinary people to obey orders from a figure of authority to inflict pain and suffering on another person. The experiment involved three people: authority figure, teacher (participant), and the learner (stooge). The participant asked the learner questions and was authorised and encouraged to implement an electric shock for each incorrect answer. The shocks started at 15 volts and increased by a series of 15 volts for each incorrect answer to a total of 450 volts. The stooge cried and screamed when the supposed electric shock was administered. All participants went to at least 300-volts on the shock generator....

References: Accessed on 23 / 10 /10 Accessed on the 23/10/10,
Raven, J. (2000). Ethical dilemmas, The Psychologist, 13, 404-406.
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