Many times I see a lot of high-risk, high-reward approaches in people who assume what they are doing is ethical, that it is worthwhile to neglect many, what appear to be smaller or less relevant unethical actions for the sake accomplishing what they perceive is outweighing the sum of those factors. Is there a conventional way to dispute this where it is not obvious or that it is unknown whether such a result is actually true but wherein the actor assumes it is?

  • Speaking generally, whether something outweighs something else is a value judgment. And while facts and projections value judgments are based on can be reasoned about, the values themselves are not subject to logic. "What they perceive" is all there is to it. But it would help if you provide concrete examples. Often people are simply mistaken about projecting what they perceive as the "greater good" as a likely outcome due to various biases collectively known as wishful thinking.
    – Conifold
    Nov 7 '20 at 5:29
  • You might be correct, but is philosophy so inept after all this time that it still does not have a means of addressing such a common pitfall? Nov 7 '20 at 21:06
  • People like to have simple straightforward rules to dispose of undesirable outcomes, this is why we get so many questions about "fallacies". But pitfalls go both ways. Sometimes ends justify means and sometimes they do not. Philosophy is there to tell people that simple solutions are not to be had. It isn't ineptitude, it is a feature. See SEP, Treating Persons as Means on a type of situations where ends justify means is broadly condemned.
    – Conifold
    Nov 7 '20 at 21:33
  • I'm not looking for a solution to be "simple" as you boldly proclaim, nor even a "solution" to begin with, but rather a set of organized principles which can dispute the premise where it is appears clearly problematic. Such is a common problem in the field of economics in the arbitrary selection of variables to be considered and researched. Nov 8 '20 at 1:58
  • A set of organized general principles is what "simple" means here, and what we have in mathematics (although proofs can be hard). Ethics (or economics) is not mathematics, it is structured differently, built around cases, not principles, and much turns on context and nuance. I am afraid, you have to ask the question differently, more concretely. What are the examples you have in mind where it appears clearly problematic? Or at least some description of the types of examples?
    – Conifold
    Nov 8 '20 at 21:55

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