Are good intentions necessary for moral action

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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The intention of the man to return the phone is enough to account for moral action. But, consequentiality like Bethel believes that the consequence of the moral action determines whether the actions are right or wrong not the intention, even though the intention may be good; the means justifies the end. For example, if the man who finds the phone and thinks to return it but forget, his act is morally wrong because the consequence of his action did not bring out a good outcome. The phone of the owner is still missing. The consequence of the action seems to be a better determinant for oral action rather than good intentions.

Sometimes, no matter how pure the good intentions are, they do not always lead to good outcomes. Good intentions could bring about disaster such as in case of terrorism. People fail to think about the outcome of the intention before acting out. The object and circumstance also play important roles in determining the moral action. Therefore, it cannot be the necessary component of moral action unless the outcome is good. Terrorist to us seem like bad people who should be locked up or worse, deserve to die. Even though, we do not see this, terrorists believe they are sighting for a just cause.

For example, the 9/1 1 attack in 2000, the terrorists believed they were fighting for the rights of Muslims who have experienced hate violence. So, to some people they were freedom fighters or soldiers like during a conventional war. According McPherson, terrorism, if compared to conventional war, is not wrong because they both attack non combatants. And sometimes, conventional war causes more harm than terrorism (Can p; 279). Terrorism is still wrong, the innocent are still killed and there is no side effect of justice being carried out.

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In fact, terrorism often does the opposite of what it sets out to achieve and produces tyranny forcing people to surrender or die. Unlike conventional war, terrorism often takes it too far and it is mostly an indirect form of confrontation like suicide bomber, a bomb planted on the street or even a person shooting people of a particular group out of nowhere. They do not consider the outcome of their actions. There is no way terrorism is a justifiable act, it is a threat to political party but to the public in general. They do have any remorse for vulnerable group such as children, hey take out their attacks on anyone (Can p; 272).

It does not matter if the intentions of terrorist group are good and often they are not, the outcome of the action is worse and it causes a lot of disaster and damage to individuals and their family. Therefore, in the form of morality, terrorism breaks all form of moral codes and is wrong. Good intentions often go bad quite easily because we as individuals has different views about life and what seems good to us might be terrible to another. Sometimes, we treat others how feel we should treated not considering they may not like that.

We often hear the expression, "it is the thought that counts," but you cannot guarantee that the person will be thinking the way you are when you perform the action. All the individual sees is the action and not the intent. For example, if I bought my friend threw my friend a surprise party without knowing she hates surprise parties because she has a disorder. She walks and everyone yells surprise and she starts screaming in panic and ends in a hospital. The intention was good but the outcome not so much, although, all people see is a bad friend.

The fault with good intention is that it tries to please everyone which is not possible and ends up making situations worse than they are. Sometimes, people never consider thinking about the outcome before they play it out the action. For example, in political campaigns when the politicians promise the crowd pleaser such healthcare, decrease in poverty etc and they are elected. A few months into the term, and there is no observable action on a better healthcare system or a decline in poverty rates because there is a decline in the economy and tax is increased, the citizens will complain.

It will not matter f the politician has a good intention because the outcome was not good. You can not sell a car mentally to a person; therefore, you cannot mentally assume that people know your intention is good. Good intention is not relevant component of moral action unless the outcome of the action is good. In order for an action to be morally good, the three components must be good or at least neutral in its object with consideration of the circumstance and have a good intention (Curran & McCormick p; 221). This means that even though the intention is good as long as the object or circumstance of the action is bad, the action is bad.

The aim or purpose of the act determines the object. The 'Voodoo, why, where, how and by what means" determines the circumstance of the moral act. For example, let us take the case of a suicide bomber named Hosannas. A man, Hosannas, is forced to commit suicide bombing to save his family. He commits suicide bombing and about 200 people are killed in the mall. In this scenario, the object of the act, killing of innocent people, is bad. The intention is good, sacrificing his life for his family, therefore preserving life.

The circumstance of the act is bad: (who) about 200 innocent people doing their jobs or shopping in the mall dies; (why) Hosannas was killing to protect his family; (where) Hosannas is the mall filled with innocent people;(how) he blew himself up along with the entire building; (by what means)with a bomb. Therefore, the moral action is bad despite the intention being good. Let us take another scenario, where Hosannas is a Muslim who believes the Muslim terrorist group are fighting for the Muslims and defending the religion. So, he takes matters into his hands and commits suicide bombing in the name of Allah and kills about 200 people in mall.

In this scenario, the object of the act, killing innocents, this is bad. The intention is good or indifferent, defending the Muslims against injustice. The circumstance of the act is bad: (who) about 200 innocent people doing their jobs or shopping in the mall dies; (why) Hosannas was defending the Muslim honor in the name of Allah; (where)Hosannas is in the mall filled with innocent people; (how) he blew himself and kills everyone the building too; (by what means )with a bomb. This scenario also shows another wrong action with the intention not being important.

So, therefore, the object and circumstance play important roles in shaping the act as either being morally good or bad. As Saint Bernard of Calvarias said "the road to hell is paved with good intentions. " This is true, as we see that, although, good intentions mean well, it does not always take the form of justice or morally right. That is people with good intentions end up doing the exact opposite of what they set out to accomplish. And Consequentiality like Bethel, unlike Kantian ethics sees this point as being true because the outcome Of the act is what counts not the intent.

In the case of terrorism, we see that terrorism can be in form of good intent and not distinctively wrong. It can also seem as act of heroism in the case of people defending their religion, but it is not. It always ends up bringing destruction and death of the innocents. Terrorist acts do not follow moral code and have no remorse for anyone. Good intentions do not always bring about great success because we cannot expect people to think the way we think. Also, people often fail to think ahead about the outcome of the act before playing it out. This often leads to bad results even with the purest of intent.

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Are good intentions necessary for moral action. (2018, May 12). Retrieved from

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