Does the End Justify the Means Essay examples

1279 Words Jan 13th, 2011 6 Pages
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
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Milgram’s research confirmed that most people will obey orders that go against their conscience.
Milgram’s research was later supported by Sheridan and King (1972) who used a puppy as a learner. As with Milgram’s original procedure the puppy was given small electric shocks and every time it made a mistake the puppy jumped and howled in pain. The participants (teachers) were led to believe that the shocks were becoming more severe. Several participants carried on implementing shocks even after learning that the puppy had lost consciousness. Finally the puppy received an anaesthetic to create the illusion that the electric shocks had killed it. The study found that 20 out of the 26 participants complied up to the end of the experiment.
Hofling (1966) carried out field studies on nurses who were unaware that they were involved in an experiment. Hofling wanted to establish if nurses would comply with the correct procedure when faced with a difficult situation. Nurses in a hospital were given orders from a doctor (stooge) over the telephone to administer a dose of medication above the maximum dose allowed. The medication was a placebo, however the nurses thought it was real. An alarming 95% of the nurses carried out the orders. They were not supposed to take instructions by phone, let alone exceed the maximum dose. Hofling

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