• IvoryBlackBishop
    146
    This isn't specifically about Fascism, but about fascism as an extreme form of consequentialism (e.x. the end justifies any and all means, as evidenced by Hitler's quotes).

    Based on this line of thinking, any philosophy, group, or "tribe" which is predicated on it could potentially lead to fascism or fascist-like behavior, what are your thoughts?
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Yep. That's why consequentialism is wrong. Ends can't justify means. (But they can falsify them).
  • IvoryBlackBishop
    146

    I tend to agree, there was an author on a book called "Combating Cult Mind Control" who also observed that any group, regardless of its particular ideology or beliefs which is predicated on "the end justifying any and all means" is a sign of a cult.

    (In this sense, 'cult' is used in a strictly negative sense, as opposed to merely the sense of a group dedicated to a particular person or cause, and not necessarily a "bad" thing to begin with, such as the "Cult of Reason" during the French revolution).
  • SophistiCat
    1k
    Based on this line of thinking, any philosophy, group, or "tribe" which is predicated on it could potentially lead to fascism or fascist-like behavior, what are your thoughts?IvoryBlackBishop

    Yeah, slippery slope-type arguments are dumb.
  • IvoryBlackBishop
    146

    To me it seems pretty cut and dry, but could you elaborate more?
  • SophistiCat
    1k
    Everything is either fascist or potentially fascist, if you play fast and loose with words and entertain far-fetched scenarios. Dogs are fascist. Ice skaters are fascist.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    That's why consequentialism is wrong. Ends can't justify means. (But they can falsify them).Pfhorrest

    There are no (unless conceptual) permanent ends. So a good consequentialist would take that into account. Similarly they would view "ends justify the means" as a poor statement. They would say something more like "it is possible for means to invalidate ends" and there would be an implied "because of the consequences" (which are impermanent and constantly changing so only really considered in an aggregate that our brains can comprehend) since they are consequentialists.

    I think I consider myself a consequentialist, but I am thinking through some shit here...so feel free to take it to task.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    They would say something more like "it is possible for means to invalidate ends" and there would be an implied "because of the consequencesZhouBoTong

    This bit seems confused on two fronts, and I wonder if you misspoke.

    For means to invalidate ends sounds like it's saying that some ends have to be given up on because they would require unacceptable means. I imagine you meant the other way around: ends can invalidate means. That's basically what I meant by "they can falsify them": a means can be shown bad because of it leading to bad ends. But a means can't be shown good for it leading to good ends, as it's sometimes possible to achieve good ends by bad means, but that doesn't make those bad means therefore good.

    The part about the implied "because of the consequences" seems redundant because "ends" and "consequences" are basically synonyms.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    For means to invalidate ends sounds like it's saying that some ends have to be given up on because they would require unacceptable means.Pfhorrest

    That is pretty much what I meant.

    I imagine you meant the other way around: ends can invalidate means.Pfhorrest

    Nope, but that is true too.

    a means can be shown bad because of it leading to bad ends.Pfhorrest

    only as much as they can be shown to be good as they lead to good ends. We don't KNOW that the bad results were caused by THOSE means?

    But a means can't be shown good for it leading to good ends, as it's sometimes possible to achieve good ends by bad means, but that doesn't make those bad means therefore good.Pfhorrest

    Yep, but as I said, it would also sometimes be possible to achieve bad ends using good means. Surely what you are arguing has to work both ways? (in fact, I agree if we say it goes both ways, if it only works in one direction, I need an explanation)

    The part about the implied "because of the consequences" seems redundant because "ends" and "consequences" are basically synonyms.Pfhorrest

    Agreed. I added that "because of the consequences" to imply that the means have additional consequences of their own separate from the intended "end".

    It is tied to this statement:
    There are no (unless conceptual) permanent ends.ZhouBoTong
    So all means are ends in another context and vice versa.

    Perhaps I am using "means" wrong? I am thinking of "means" as the things that lead to ends.
  • tim wood
    3.9k
    Ends and means, means and ends. The correct formulation is that the ends justify some means.Now all that remains is to settle on what "justifies" means.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    Perhaps I am using "means" wrong? I am thinking of "means" as the things that lead to ends.ZhouBoTong

    That’s correct.

    if it only works in one direction, I need an explanationZhouBoTong

    I see it as like valid inferences, and the normal bidirectional view of ends justifying means as like the fallacy of affirming the consequent.

    A valid inference is truth-preserving: if the premises are true, a valid inference will only result in true conclusions. It might result in false conclusions, but only if the premises were false. But that's only one-directional: coming to true conclusions doesn't show the argument to be valid, or its premises to be true.

    In my view, means have to be "goodness-preserving": if the prior circumstances are good, then good (or as I'd prefer to distinguish it, "just") means will only result in good consequences. They can have bad consequences, but only if the prior circumstances were bad; they must not introduce new badness. And that's only one-directional: good consequences don't show the means to be just, or the prior circumstances to be good.

    In particular, a valid inference is that given that if P then Q and that P is true, we can infer that Q is true. But it doesn't follow that given that if P then Q and that Q is true, we can infer that P is true. Making that kind of invalid argument is called affirming the consequent. The falsificationist view in philosophy of science accuses a common view of science (where you see a prediction of a hypothesis come true and take that as showing the hypothesis to be true) of hinging entirely on this, naming it "confirmationism".

    Similarly, given that if P then Q and that P is good, we can infer that Q is good. But it doesn't follow that given that if P then Q and that Q is good, we can infer that P is good. In other words, just because P has a consequence of Q, and Q is good, doesn't mean that P is good. I think that consequentialism commits that exact fallacy, the normative equivalent of affirming the consequent, and is thus analogous to confirmationism in science. In contrast, I advocate a normative analogue of falsificationism.

    But just like falsificationism doesn't say "matching predictions doesn't matter", the normative analogue of it doesn't say "consequences don't matter". It just says that only bad consequences are relevant, in the same way that only false predictions matter: true predictions and good consequences, while they seem nice, don't actually tell us anything of use.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    The correct formulation is that the ends justify some means.tim wood

    Works for me. Sorry if I am rambling about ends and means in 2 or 3 different threads right now.

    Now all that remains is to settle on what "justifies" means.tim wood

    Haha, these discussions actually had me going to the stanford.plato site searching for definitions of "ends" and "means"...it seems the terms are too fundamental for them to even bother (there are pages on recognizing when people are being used as a "means", but no definitions of those words)...and if you are making fun of me for harping on about semantics...I probably deserve it :grin:
  • tim wood
    3.9k
    and if you are making fun of meZhouBoTong
    Not at all. Some balloons get so big they're hard to see around. I think I'm accomplishing something if I can stick a pin it it.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    Some balloons get so big they're hard to see around. I think I'm accomplishing something if I can stick a pin it it.tim wood

    Fair enough, and I appreciate the effort...in my next reply to phorrest I will do my best not to add too much air to the balloon :smile:
  • tim wood
    3.9k
    I will do my best not to add too much (more) airZhouBoTong
    Hmm. Pfhorrest. I shouldn't think that would be possible.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    I see it as like valid inferences, and the normal bidirectional view of ends justifying means as like the fallacy of affirming the consequent.Pfhorrest

    I did read everything, but I can only agree if "ends" and "means" are distinct entities. But I have been trying to say that I can't see them as different. Anything we call "means" can serve as "ends" for another event...and the "ends" of the current event will proceed to be means for the next event. So to say we have to analyze them in one direction is hard to understand.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    Hmm. Pfhorrest. I shouldn't think that would be possible.tim wood

    Haha, and I am a bit rambly myself, so we could quickly get out of hand. I will try to remember my brevity lessons from Terrapin Station.
  • Pfhorrest
    1.3k
    I did read everything, but I can only agree if "ends" and "means" are distinct entities. But I have been trying to say that I can't see them as different. Anything we call "means" can serve as "ends" for another event...and the "ends" of the current event will proceed to be means for the next event. So to say we have to analyze them in one direction is hard to understand.ZhouBoTong

    I meant to reply to that part too, and just forgot. Yes, I agree that there is no hard distinction between events that are means and events that are ends. But there is still a relative difference in the relationship between two events, or two states of affairs, basically the same as cause and effect. The effect of a cause can be the cause of a later effect, but still between two events it is clear which is the cause of the other and which is the effect of the other, even though the cause of one may be the effect of something earlier and the effect in turn may be the cause of something else later. "Means" and "ends" are basically just a normative way of looking at causes and effects.
  • ZhouBoTong
    767
    But there is still a relative difference in the relationship between two events, or two states of affairs, basically the same as cause and effect.Pfhorrest

    Agreed, but only from one exact perspective. You are describing (I am simplifying for clarity - I do not think these are your exact thoughts on the issue) something along the lines of: 1 leads to 2, which leads to 3...and so on.

    Just like a number line has potentially infinite points between 1 and 2, I would say that each end has potentially infinite causes. So to say that any single end can justify a mean, seems crazy. However, if we analyze the situation as a whole, it seems reasonable to think that a greatly positive end could make a mildly negative mean acceptable (I am not using the word "justify" but I think this still sticks with the spirit of "ends justify the means")...and beyond that, we only have to accept the mild negative in the short term. Just recognizing the mild negative allows us to seeks future solutions that achieve the same ends without any negative means. But in the short term, I could be willing to accept a mild negative for the sake of bigger gains (aren't humans and systems constantly making these calculations as they make decisions anyway?).
  • christian2017
    777


    Tribalism in the strictest sense is sinful but Tribalism on many levels is justified. Some religions see all converts as part of the same Tribe. To marry someone of the same religion means you value that person's philosophy. When two people of the same philosophy marry, that means they value each other for something other than what each other look like.
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