Does The End Justify The Means? Essay

700 Words Sep 14th, 2014 3 Pages
Does the End Justify the Means?
“A man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him . . . hence it is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity” (Machiavelli, 1505, p.71). What political necessities justify wrong doing, lies, deceit, war, and the like? Most people highly regard the commandment “thou shalt not kill” found in translations of the Bible; yet, these same people find it acceptable to kill for the purpose of self preservation. Discerning when the self is at risk, enough to justify killing, can be disputable. Society accepts devotion to a set of virtues as conditional dependent upon situations; the difficulty lies in resolving conditions acceptable for wrong doing.
Right and wrong, or in other words what is moral and immoral is defined by society. Actions, such as lying, stealing, and killing, inflict harm and are socially defined as immoral acts. Yet, all have the opportunity to be socially justifiable dependent upon situations. For instance, lying to avoid hurt feelings, stealing to feed your starving family, and killing to protect one’s self, might have socially accepted justifications. The same might be said in the political arena. For instance, lying to appease social unrest, and stealing intelligence or killing thousands in war to thwart homeland terrorist activity, might have socially accepted justifications as well. In…

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