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Do the ends justify the means?

Do the ends justify the means?

There has been much discussion recently on how to get more people to volunteer but how important a goal is this? How much would we be willing to sacrifice to see this goal achieved? My guess is that the answer for most people would be “not much”.

Matthew Taylor has written on his misgivings on what he calls “involunteering” i.e. forcing people to volunteer.

I recently read two pieces of research which found that more people would volunteer if there was more income inequality and if people were less satisfied with public services.

I am certainly not saying that we should hope for either, however, these observations do raise lots of questions about how much of a goal increased volunteering really is.

Indeed, perhaps one of the (many) PR problems with Cameron’s idea of The Big Society is that it appears to be both a means (reforming public services, training community organisers etc…) and an end (people feeling more responsible for their area and more empowered). Without making this split clear it’s hard for us to debate which means we are or are not willing to tolerate for which ends.


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