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This essay will seek to prove that the statement "the end justifies the means" is not morally defensible.

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Introduction

Niccollo Machiavelli, born on May 3, 1469, lived during a period of turmoil and constant war in Europe. Machiavelli believed that political life cannot and should not be governed by a set of moral or religious absolutes. He also believed that in the interest of securing the state, acts of violence and deception that would be unethical and indefensible were permissible. This essay will seek to prove that the statement "the end justifies the means" is not morally defensible. It will explore the implications of the statement itself, the rudiments of the social contract, the principles of Machiavelli and solid empirical evidence. The belief that the end entirely justifies the means is merely an extreme version of the commonly held belief that moral considerations cannot apply to the means except in relation to ends, or that the latter have a moral priority. Gandhi wrote, "The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree; and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree."1 Thus, one cannot have an end entirely independent from its means. ...read more.

Middle

This is an extremely immoral act that is not morally defensible . Machiavelli says "for when the safety of one's country wholly depends on the decision to be taken, no attention should be paid either to justice or injustice, to kindness or cruelty, or to its being praiseworthy or ignominious"3. This statement though pragmatic, leaves out some very important elements. The U.S.A under a perceived threat of danger from another "principality" Iraq, attacked and removed the government and has been trying since then to establish peace and order. The strategy was classically Machiavellian - take over government and do not change the current laws and taxes. Once the country is taken over, it is easy to rule. The rampant deaths of Iraqis and Americans alike prove that this is not fool proof. The elements he rules out are threefold. First he forgets that the people may not want to be ruled by foreigners and may revolt. Secondly, he forgets the situation where an attack on a principality with the aim of protecting the integrity of one's state causes one to lose the state just because the other principality may be stronger than one may be. ...read more.

Conclusion

An excellent example is the impeachment of Bill Clinton as a result of his private affair with Monica Lewinsky. Immoral acts are simply far easier to apprehend in today's world and simply morally indefensible. A similar problem occurs over the goodness of the consequences. Tens of millions of people died in order to bring about a communist "workers' paradise," a society without want, greed, crime, or even government, in places like the Soviet Union and Maoist China. Such an idea has existed in many forms, but rarely with the belief that it could be effected by mass murder and slavery. In this case, it depended on no more than a certain theory of economics and history. The "end" envisioned seemed so "good and humane", that this theory made it possible to rationalize murder, torture, and slavery on the ground that these were only wrongs from a "bourgeois" point of view, and so in fact "revolutionary justice." Thus, the "end justifies the means" really became a way of denying that the means were even wrong. In conclusion, Machiavelli in The Prince took a good analytical look at politics as it was and examined the principles of successful government. Yet the statement "the end justifies the means" is to a very large extent morally indefensible. ...read more.

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