CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

Roger Burton West roger at firedrake.org
Wed Dec 15 10:40:59 EST 2004

On Wed, Dec 15, 2004 at 12:02:55AM +0000, minnow at belfry.org.uk wrote:

>It also gets one neatly out of arguments about the end justifying the
>means, most times.  OTOH, I have an on-going and probably perpetual
>argument with someone about whether motive can ever be an excuse when
>someone fouls up: I reckon that if someone is doing their best and means no
>ill, but because of something they didn't happen to know things go Horribly
>Wrong, I find their failure more excusable even if the results are
>appalling than I find someone who does something all wrong through not
>caring or because s/he enjoys others' pain.

This may be a matter of definitions. The intent is a mitigator (as it
is the other way round; doing something good in order to try to get
people to like one can reduce the credit gained by the good act), but
it's never going to outweigh the action - which the use of "excuse", to
my mind, implies that it could.

As far as the person who goes to the nice building built by the evil guy
who wanted good PR is concerned, or the person who's paralysed because
he was dragged out of a crashed car is concerned, it really doesn't
matter _why_ the thing was done... it only matters to the person who did
it. (There is no double-entry bookkeeping in ethics.)

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