Is having a good motive a good enough excuse to justify bad outcomes?
Most of the times things don't necessarily turn out the way we want them to. Sometimes we screw things up and things screw us up. Sometimes we get hurt and people hurt us. But should the good intentions be enough to shield them and us from the effect of the outcome?

I think it depends entirely on how you look at things, on one hand, regardless of how things end up, it's the thought that counts. You could be trying bake a cake for someone on their birthday even though you don't know how to bake, and end up making a terrible tasting/looking cake for the person. Now in that case, the motive justifies the outcome because in that case, it's actually the thought that counts.

There are situations where people may have the best intentions at heart but how they go about doing things and the eventual outcomes are far too much of an issue for them to be excused. Let's look at Hitler, apparently all he wanted to do was to make Germany a better place, but his solution was to kill millions of Jews and other ethnic groups.

He had a good motive, that is to make Germany a better place and a better country but his means and the eventual outcome don't justify his intentions. No matter how pure hearted the intention is, for the most part, if things don't go well then it doesn't count for much.

I think having good intentions is great, but in the eyes of the people we're trying to help, it only matters when we actually succeed at what we're trying to do. Except in the case of the first instance I gave(the thought that counts) then your motive will not be enough to justify a bad outcome.

Think about it this way, if you're trying to wash your dad's car and you accidentally damage a tail light or a side mirror, he's not going to care that you were trying to keep his car clean, what's going to be remembered is that you broke his car.

Thus, to answer your question is simple, having a good motive doesn't justify the outcome, the outcome may be overlooked if the situation warrants a "thought that counts" response, otherwise, it won't justify anything.

I hope this helps


Hey dude!

Are you a genius of questions?  Every question you ask is extremely well thought out and super interesting...

Personally.... I think it's not helpful to have any sort of blanket statement for anything really... as tiring as it is, I do think each case and situation needs to be individually evaluated... because, quite simply, there's always other factors at play....

Was the stated motivation the actual motive?  People can lie, omit certain truths or have multiple motivations.  I may want to want to help my partner move her amplifier in from the car because it's too heavy for her... but I also want to do it quickly so I can get back to what I was doing... and I rush and bang it into the wall... my overall motive was good, but my other motivation was selfish and so I wouldn't expect my good intentions to shield me from the pain of doing a nice thing badly.

Did the person have a good motivation, but didn't think it through and screwed everything up?  I mean, yes, it was lovely that they tried... but if they made everything worse than if they hadn't tried at all... I'm not sure how happy I'd be.  If something was a genuine accident, of course I wouldn't be stressed... but if there was a pattern of making things worse, well...

Did the person have good intentions, but then got distracted?  Again, if that was a pattern, then I'm not sure how thrilled I'd be... but if was a genuine once-off mistake I don't think I'd be too stressed.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that forgiveness leads to a happier life... but the caveat is that I'd want to see people learning and growing... and not making the same mistakes over and over... even if their intentions are good.

We can choose to be happy, and it's important to not let other people bring us down... especially since other people definitely go into the category of 'things we can't control'... but I also think it's important to cut people out of our lives if they're not adding to it... it's important for our own happiness and mental health... so forgive, unless that person is the worst, then cut.

Harsh, but fair.

Thanks for asking such a thought provoking question... I have to say, I'd likely give a totally different answer on different days... this one really makes you think.

1 Comment

I feel that if your intentions are genuine then yes. No one does anything on purpose to make a mess of things.

People will more likely understand if things go wrong and forgive you if your intention was to do good. We learn from our actions and that is the reality. Things can change that are out of our control changing the original proposed outcome. 

I think that someone should be treated more leniently if something gets screwed up and it wasn't intentional. Mistakes happen and are not done on purpose. No one likes to screw up and does it intentionally.

Each case has to be taken on it's merit, but I would forgive someone more if I knew what the good intentions were. If someones good intention is to do harm then it would be a no.


Not at all, good motive doesn't justify bad outcomes. The society values and trust high in outcomes than ones motive. We can't see motive, we see outcomes and most times motive matters less.

Most president, crypto regulators, witnesses on steemit when asked the reasons behind why they do some of this things they do, you will be surprised to know they have good motives but when the outcome is bad, we back off the motive and face the outcome.

Though it's subjective when it comes to matters relating individuals, some may accept the justification for bad outcomes when the motive is good and others may not. But on an objective case, mostly it's harder to justify bad outcomes with good motives


No, it's a terrible justification.

I don't remember the philosopher, but once was said something along the lines of "everyone always have good intentions in their mind".

Hitler probably thought he was right when exterminating Jews. Does that justify the bad outcome?

Does Stalins good intention when running a centrally planned economy erace 15 million People dying due to starvation?

That's a terrible world view to hold on to.


Having a good motive to justify bad outcome can blind slide people's judgement and not make them take responsibility of their actions.

Yes I totally think it's OK to have a good motive but when you try to justify a bad outcome with a good motive then that's a problem because I feel you will only see the motive and not the effect of the outcome. There was a day my boyfriend shouted at me in presence of his friends, his motive was for me to put down the computer and rest because I had a very stressful day and I should be resting and not working.

Yes that was a good motive but along the line he disrespected me in presence of his friends.

His good motive does not make what he did right.

I felt really disrespected.

So regarding to your question good motive should not shield whoever did whatever from taking responsibility.


This is dependent on motive, intention, and perception. 

I would argue that motive and intention are everything.

But sometimes results are catastrophic, and you cannot always prove intention. This is where things get fuzzy. If 100 people say you are wrong, and it your mind you were right, the collective decision, if all the facts are laid out, is that you are indeed wrong.

If you believe in the collective perspective being of higher precedence, then you will be less likely to excuse your action(s). 

I personally think motive is everything, but I recognize that it means nothing when the majority rules. 


Most times people weigh it consequences rather than just the motive. I have seen many times where cases like this resulted to a negative feedback despite the motive was good but the outcome caused harm.

I remember a time when i tried to help a women get water from a well , she actually did not request for my assistant ,in the mind of pleasing her the drawer fell inside the well. When the woman heard of what happened, she forgot that I was trying to help and insisted that I pay her for the drawer. I did. Though my good motive, I couldn't argue the fact that i did a wrong thing by falling the drawer. So most times people judge by outcome and not motive.


I would say "no". It's for a fact that we can't correct a mistake with another mistake.

To put it simply, in a hypothetical scenario that you gave a poor guy a piece of bread that you stole from somebody else's shop, so he can eat for today, then it's a mistake.

Even though your intention is good but along the process of achieving this goal is that you commit a wrong doing, then it is not good at all.


Depends on the situation.

Though probably NOT, IF conscious in advance that the outcome is likely to not be great.