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For example: "The burnings at the salem witch trials are an example of _______."

  • ..example of misguided self-righteousness is what you meant? I'll lokk for a single word then. – NVZ Jan 25 '16 at 18:59
  • I don't know any single word for this. A common proverb used to describe this idea is "the end justifies/the ends justify the means." People also use the phrase "a necessary evil" to describe something bad that is supposed to ultimately serve "the greater good." – sumelic Jan 25 '16 at 19:00
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    Fanaticism, or one of it's synonyms. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '16 at 19:01
  • Monomania almost fits. – Hot Licks Jan 25 '16 at 19:06
  • And, of course, "zealotry". (It should be noted that nothing "good" was done in the Salem craziness. Rather, some very bogus pseudo-religious superstitions were harnessed to do nothing but bad.) – Hot Licks Jan 25 '16 at 19:09
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Consequentialism

Noun

"Consequentialism is the class of normative ethical theories holding that the consequences of one's conduct are the ultimate basis for any judgment about the rightness or wrongness of that conduct." Wikipedia.

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crusade:

lead or take part in an energetic and organized campaign concerning a social, political, or religious issue. –Google

inquisition:

an investigation that violates the privacy or rights of individuals, especially through rigorous or harsh interrogation. –TFD

"The burnings at the Salem witch trials are an example of a(n) [crusade/inquisition] (against heresy)."

Note, both of these words came to mind before I even read the context, which I feel makes them even more appropriate.

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