In some Japanese anime one of the characters presented the following paradox:

“What do you do when there is an evil you cannot defeat by just means? Do you stain your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or do you remain steadfastly just and righteous even if it means surrendering to evil?”

Another character denounced the paradox involved when she said "in any case, evil remains." I suppose that paradox is probably famous (or refers/alude to a famous one), but googling about it I can't find its real author. Someone has a clue about it?

  • Doesn't seem like much of a paradox to me, at least not from a Utilitarian perspective: which is the lesser evil? The bad guy and the actions he'll take if you don't kill him, or killing the bad guy? If he's just going to jaywalk, don't kill him. If he's going to nuke New York City, kill him. In any case, you'll probably have a more fruitful search starting with the English idiom "don't sink to his level". – Dan Bron Dec 4 '16 at 17:42
  • That affirmation of yours is true only if we could be sure that the "new evil" will be lesser than the destroyed one. We can picture a scenario where the destroyed evil had born from the same process than this new one, and never recognized how much it decayed (as we humans tend to ignore so much about ourselves). As we cannot evaluate this presented problem, the continuity of evil represents a paradox, as in any given path, evil remains. – André Carvalho Dec 4 '16 at 17:51
  • That's not a paradox, that's uncertainty. Uncertainty is inherent in every decision. We cannot know the future, we can only make the best informed decision we can make at the time, and react accordingly to the outcome. In a more clinical example: should you invest in stocks or real-estate? You won't know til 10 years from now which was the better decision, but does that make the question a paradox? Is there no rational way, now, absent a crystal ball, to make a decision? Of course there is. The cartoon "paradox" is just that - a cartoon "paradox", scare quotes included. – Dan Bron Dec 4 '16 at 18:01
  • why don't you send an email to the author of the script? maybe he came up with it originally. I would love to hear the answer. – nir Dec 4 '16 at 20:12
  • Can you make clearer the question you have about philosophy. I'm seeing the lines from the anime but what is the objectively answerable question about philosophy? – virmaior Dec 4 '16 at 23:04

In this context it's really more of a trope than anything else; but the philosophical reference might be to Nietzsche (battle not with monsters, lest ye become a monster, from Beyond Good and Evil).

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