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January 10, 2017 / Congau

Right Action

Can wrong actions be excused and accepted if the outcome is for the greater good of the society?

If an outcome of an action is for the greater good of the society, it may automatically be considered a right action. In that case it would be a contradiction of terms to suggest that a wrong action can have a good outcome. Can there possibly be another way to decide whether an action is right or wrong?

Some say that an action may be good in itself, but then what is the measure of its goodness? If telling the truth is good, why is it so? It is because truthfulness is good for social relations, that is, it has a good outcome for society.

But it may happen that actions which are usually likely to produce bad results, on occasions can have good effects. If the agent did not intend the favorable outcome or if he was just lucky there is no reason to praise him for his action and it must still be deemed wrong in spite of the good result. But when he intended the action, knew what he was doing and achieved the expected good result, then the action was praiseworthy and good.

However, one important note must be made. By outcome I don’t just mean the final result. Everything that happens in the process must also be counted toward the outcome. Even if killing unproductive elements benefits the national economy, that can never add up to a favorable net result in moral terms.

But an intended, well calculated action that has a beneficiary total outcome for society, one that even you can agree with, can never be wrong.

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