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the end justifies the means

A positive outcome justifies the methods one employs to reach it, even if they are unethical. I know you think that the end justifies the means, but stealing to feed the poor is still stealing.
See also: end, justify, mean

The end justifies the means.

Prov. You can use bad or immoral methods as long as you accomplish something good by using them. (Not everyone agrees with this idea.) Lucy got money for the orphanage by embezzling it from the firm where she worked. "The end justifies the means," she told herself. The politician clearly believed that the end justifies the means, since he used all kinds of nefarious means to get elected.
See also: end, justify, mean

justify something by something

to try to explain why something needs doing or why it is acceptable to do something. You cannot justify violence by quoting proverbs. Your action was totally justified by the circumstances.
See also: by, justify

justify something to someone

to explain something to someone and show why it is necessary. Please try to justify this to the voters. I can justify your action to no one.
See also: justify

end justifies the means, the

A good outcome excuses any wrongs committed to attain it. For example, He's campaigning with illegal funds on the theory that if he wins the election the end will justify the means , or The officer tricked her into admitting her guilt-the end sometimes justifies the means. This proverbial (and controversial) observation dates from ancient times, but in English it was first recorded only in 1583.
See also: end, justify

the end justifies the means

wrong or unfair methods may be used if the overall goal is good.
The Roman poet Ovid expresses this concept in Heroides as exitus acta probat meaning ‘the outcome justifies the actions’.
See also: end, justify, mean

the end justifies the ˈmeans

(saying) bad or unfair methods of doing something are acceptable if the result of that action is good or positive
See also: end, justify, mean
References in periodicals archive ?
But since the occasion for invoking such a procedure will always be the lack of affirmative reasons that justify a particular action, only a random decision procedure would qualify.
Finally, the mere fact that officers have probable cause to believe that a container placed in a vehicle contains contraband or evidence does not justify a search of the entire vehicle.
Putin has used the incidents to justify seizing more power and instituting more policestate measures.
The ruling said the courts will "continue to look with strong skepticism at attempts to justify infringements of charter rights on the basis of budgetary constraints.
DWP officials haven't needed to justify their actions to the public or elected officials for most of 100 years.
Berry shows us that surrounding the many interests that men rationally invoked to justify their participation in war were equally important impulses--to be worthy and to be loved.
He uses the perverse argument of moral equivalency to justify his hateful nonsense.
Bush's administration was increasingly using the humanitarian argument to justify its actions.
The Tax court had held that adherence to the tables was proper because no priorcase had held that marketably restrictions alone could justify departure; see Gribauskas, 116 TC at 163.
The Government is consulting on whether, in exceptional cases, employers should be able to justify mandatory retirement ages and on whether there should be a default retirement age of 70, after which no justification would be required.
Does she also tolerate the "religious views" that justified slavery in America, that justify the murder of "witches" in Africa today, or that justify a "jihad" that attacks America?
Can George W Bush, having declined to pay his nation's dues to the United Nations, justify ignoring this internationally recognised federation of nations to declare war to satisfy the Texas oil barons who financed his presidential campaign.
COALITION forces will not "plant" weapons of mass destruction to justify the war that toppled Saddam, Jack Straw said yesterday.
All of this is discomforting to the many people who love the sport and feel helpless trying to justify it.
To the client, it is almost exactly what you need to justify your project--to your management and purchasing.