Assessment of a Statement

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Assessment of a Statement 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. If any worthwhile end can justify the means to attain it, a true ethical foundation is lost. But the end does not justify the means. If that were so, then Hitler could justify the Holocaust because the end was to purify the human race. Stalin could justify his slaughter of millions because he was trying to achieve a... ... middle of paper ... ...t individual among us is basically the only excuse the government has for even existing” Bibliography Forsyth and Keens-Soper (1992) “The Political Classics” New York; Oxford University Press Machiavelli, N (1998) “The Prince”, (Harvey C. Mansfield, Ed) (2nd Edition) London; University of Chicago press Jeremy Bentham (1988) “The Principles of Morals and Legislation” New York; Prometheus Books Raghawan, N. Iyer (Means And Ends In Politics) Http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/amin.htm Antiwar.com Http://AllAfrica.com/stories/200502140552.html --------------------------------------------------------------------- [1] Means And Ends in Politics, Chapter 28 [2] Http://AllAfrica.com/stories/200502140552.html [3] The Political Classics, Pg 99 [4] The Price, Chapter 16
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