TED Conversations

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

To what extent do the ends justify the means?

Fairly straight forward question, I think. I encourage you to ask for clarification though. One possible "end" that you could talk about the means for is science (touched on in the Milgram experiment). How far should our experiments go before we can justify the knowledge of the results? You can definitely use your own examples; that was just a possible route.

Possible routes:
Means: torturing someone; Ends: information for national security

+1
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Sep 18 2013: I do not understand this question: "How far should are experiments go before we can't justify the knowledge to the results?" Could you rephrase this question? Are you asking whether an experiment might not be worth doing because the knowledge that would be gained is not worth the cost of the experiment? There are various "awards" given annually to real research projects that appear to be investigating questions of trivial importance
    • thumb
      Sep 18 2013: Let me use an example, but your "Are you asking whether an experiment might not be worth doing because the knowledge that would be gained is not worth the cost of the experiment?" is a fairly good rephrasing. For any test on human behavior or psychology, the humans are usually altered psychology. In the Milgram experiment, humans are led to believe they may have killed someone in the name of science or at least severely hurt another human in the pursuit of finishing the experiment. Of course, none of this is true, but some people debate that the experiment may cause permanent psychological damage and find that the experiment is unethical. That debating primarily inspired that subquestion in the description: what are or should there be any ethical boundaries for scientific experiments?

      You can address the general question as well. Restated: Should there be limits on searches for knowledge? In more of an extreme question: Can killing other humans be ever justified by the goal/predicted ending? (Sort of leads into morality/ethics of war.)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.