Phil for Humanity Phil for Humanity
A Guide for the Survival of Humankind and Helping the World, Society, and Yourself.

Does the End Justify the Means?

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote that "the ends justify the means". Typically, this quote is misinterpreted as any action, no matter how unethical or immoral, can be justified for the purpose of any reasonable or needed outcome. However, Machiavelli suggested and supported this pragmatic philosophy only for the purpose of stabilizing and improving governments. Machiavelli specifically stated that this philosophy could not be ethically used by individuals for personal greed, profit, or self improvement. Furthermore, Machiavelli believed that any possibly "cruel actions" by governments should be "swift, effective, and short-lived" to decrease the harmful impact on their citizens and to minimize the probability of rebellion.

I think in this modern age the Machiavellian philosophy of "the ends justify the means" needs to be expanded upon.

First, companies are using this philosophy despite any consequences to individuals or the world. For example, businesses believe that profits are more important than their employees or their customers. Also, companies continue to knowingly harm the environment without care for wildlife, people, or future generations. This is obviously wrong, and companies should be made accountable for their actions just like people are, since greed is not a valid excuse for the ends justifying the means.

Second, governments are suppose to use this Machiavellian philosophy only to help their citizens, yet political leaders continue to use this reasoning for war with other countries or simply just harming other countries politically, economically, and socially. These leaders should not help the citizens of their countries at the cost of harming citizens of other counties.

Because of human nature, it has been repeatedly proven that individuals, companies, and governments can not morally justify their actions based on greed. And since we now live in an increasingly interdependent world, humanity can only afford the Machiavellian philosophy of "the ends justify the means" to help the entire human race or planet. Yet who can the world trust to be idealistic and moral enough to help all of humanity and the environment, and at the same time, be practical enough to make extremely difficult decisions that can and will harm a great deal of people?

by Phil for Humanity
on 06/27/2007

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