Niccolo Machiavelli is one of the significant political and philosophical thinkers known by many of us. Machiavelli is primarily known for the phrase “the end justifies the means” which has been continuously a subject of contention with regards to discussions and discourses today (Robertson, 2012). With this doctrine, individuals are now faced with several issues whether the desired end can be justified by the means adopted in achieving them. Nevertheless, most people deny that there is no any problematic or implication especially when unworthy means are employed in making a good end (Livingstone, 2011).
However, if the outcome is commendable, then whichever means a person uses to achieve the end is justifiable provided both the results and means used are decent and good (McGraw, 2003). Therefore, this paper seeks to analyze the phrase “the end justifies the means” and consequently highlight the consequences that may arise from following, or not following this political axiom.
Answering the fundamental question whether the end is justified by the means used in achieving the outcome depends on the end a person wants to achieve and the mean he/she uses (McGraw, 2003). If both the means employed and result are noble and upright, then the question would have been answered. The justification of the outcome is determined by the means used. Thus, that is the position I chose to take. Nonetheless, in as much as there are numerous views regarding the meaning of “the end justifies the mean” doctrine, am in agreement with the belief that end and the means adopted should be noble. However, people misuse the phrase in trying to justify their own goals notwithstanding of the immoral means used in achieving them (Robertson, 2012).
Most people put greater focus on what they want to achieve but pays little attention to what means to be used to justify their ends when doing a wrong thing and trying to reach a positive result (Bartlett, 2013). Thus, they defend their immoral doing by pointing to the outcome that was good. The immoral justification is demonstrated in several historical events such as the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the 1st and 2nd World Wars and the Holocaust. A lot of justification has been made by many people with regards to the ends of these events and by extension weighing war vs. peace, but one thing that is trued is that the ends were noble. However, the means were not (McGraw, 2003).
To make comparisons regarding what is considered to be wrong and morally right, here is an example to give clarity about the two. For instance, a person can lie about his credentials on his resume in trying to get a better job. The person can justify his actions by saying that, the lying was meant to help him receive a huge salary to help him provide for his family more effectively. Another example is justifying an abortion to save the life of the mother. Both the two cases create a dilemma in trying to establish the authenticity of what is done and what ought to have been done (Bartlett, 2013). Either way, there are consequences in following this political axiom.
According to these examples, taking the life of an innocent infant and lying are both viewed as equally wrong. On the contrary, the end which is efficiently providing for one’s family and saving the life of the mother are both morally right. Nevertheless, it’s essential for an individual to learn and be able to distinguish between what ought to be done to avoid the consequences of what is done. What if the person who lied about his resume was not given the job because he was not truthful? What if the baby aborted was to become a very successful and influential individual? Thus the wrong means used can lead to ruin rather than good (Robertson, 2012).
Therefore, it’s challenging to use wrong means of trying to achieve a right end. For instance, building a house with lousy material won’t work. The phrase “the end justifies the means” can be misinterpreted if people won’t look closely to examine what it says. People should be indeed concerned about the end itself, is it perfect? Additionally, there is need to explore the means adopted in achieving a particular outcome, and how they affect the ends (McGraw, 2003).
Difficulties and complications are witnessed especially when unworthy means are used to achieve a particular end, as it was in the case of the 1st and 2nd World Wars. Were the ends of such ruthless means necessary? Thus, the consequences of following these political axioms are regularly seen in wartimes situations and political environments. Governments employ whatever methods as long they come out victorious irrespective of losing lives and property (Bartlett, 2013).
In conclusion, it’s significant to note that a good number of people have taken part in “the end justifies the mean” argument at some point in life. Means used are supposed to be ethical and morally upright. Therefore, if one adopts a particular mean that is potentially bad in itself, it cannot serve a positive end even though it may appear right on the surface. An outcome achieved through an upright approach is what is justified and not the wrong mean.