A Fun Way to Figure Out Your Moral Relativism

You know the question. You’ve taken basic undergraduate philosophy. You’ve sent friendships to the edge discussing this – does the end really, truly, actually and completely, justify the means? It’s like that other goddamned loaded question: what’s more important, freedom or happiness?

I just want to let you know right now that I’m not going to answer either question. Even thought I sometimes dress as one, I’m not really a sage immortal (in other news, who is SO EXCITED for The Hobbit?) But, it’s clear to me anyway that we’re never going to know the answer, or at least history will be very unclear about it. Right now, so many people are just trying to do the right thing. So here’s a quiz!

1. Hernan Cortes (you may remember him from hits such as destroying the Aztec civilization) massacred almost 5000 people in the Mexican village of Cholula and destroyed the largest city of the early sixteenth century. But he also introduced horses back to the Americas and eliminating the sacrificing of children. He kickstarted the global economy.

Does the end justify the means?

2. James Polk (once he was the president) possibly lied to Congress about an attack on American troops, starting the Mexican-American war. Now, Texas and California are part of the US. In this past election, all fifty-five of California’s electoral votes went to President Obama. All of Texas’ (38) went to Mitt Romney.

Does the end justify the means?

3. In conducting the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus. But the result of the civil war meant no more slavery, and the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, part of which includes due process.

Does the end justify the means?

4. Sweatshops in China, the Philippines, and Bangladesh are sweltering, unsafe places with abysmal working conditions and low wages. But such sweatshops make the economies of the countries that allow them competitive. But, workers have limited protection and said countries probably won’t see the benefits for a couple of generations, much like the Western Hemisphere’s push through the Industrial Revolution.

Does the end justify the means?

5. Mohammed Morsi at his most relatable was only trying to speed up government bureaucracy in order to assure a democratic constitution is created. But the way he’s trying to do this puts him the position of his predecessor, Mubarak. He’s capable of seizing enough power to turn Egypt’s fledgling democracy into another dictatorship.

Will the end justify the means?

Please submit all answers in essay form.

I expect it to take some time. Because today it’s easy to say what is and what isn’t. It’s easy to say things are definite, are sure, are true, but it’s harder to remember that everything, every single thing has a multiplicity of consequences, and that good and bad are so much harder to qualify than we remember.


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