Hannah ArendtWhen you judge people’s worth only by the results they produce you elevate people whose ends justify the means.

We no longer elevate people of character but people of ruthless results. We are abdicating our right to evaluate character or methods.

The exclusionary rule is a vestige of the character school of public morality. Dirty Harry is the blossom of the anything goes replacement.

Only the modern age’s conviction that man can know only what he makes, that his allegedly higher capacities depend upon making and that he therefore is primarily homo faber and not an animal rationale, brought forth the much older implications of violence inherent in all interpretations of the realm of human affairs as a sphere of making. (p. 228).



We are perhaps the first generation which has become fully aware of the murderous consequences inherent in a line of thought that forces one to admit that all means, provided that they are efficient, are permissible and justified to pursue something defined as an end…

…for to make a statement about ends that do not justify all means is to speak in paradoxes, the definition of an end being precisely the justification of the means and paradoxes always indicate perplexities, they do not solve them and hence are never convincing. As long as we believe that we deal with ends and means in the political realm, we shall not be able to prevent anybody’s using all means to pursue recognized ends. (p. 229).

Hannah Arendt, 1906-1975, in
The Human Condition
German-born American political scientist and philosopher



See also Gandhi on ends vs. means.