End justifies the Means in Machiavelli’s Philosophy

Machiavelli: Which balance between Ethics & Politics?

Does the end justifies the means? Machiavelli gives a complex answer to this fundamental politic problem.

In the Prince, Machiavelli is clearly warned against any attempt to turn what is, because Machiavelli’s philosophy comes from the nature of men. Hence, The prince must take into account the actual realities. He must be aware and be done with, the specificity of social space and political context of its action. In this space, dominates the appearance, the prince can not ignore it, and must know himself in play, otherwise, it will be trapped in this false duality (be-appearance).

Thus in Chapter XVI we see that the prince should be careful about what they say. Reputation, rumor, are fantastical constructions that can be remotely qualities and defects of the prince, but it is not to turn away, on the contrary, you have to enjoy it, anyway, the Prince is not the master of public opinion, or the impression he gives. It must ensure his appearances, since we can not do without, and Machiavelli said that it should be done with the purpose to be loved by his people. His behavior is justified, as he says throughout his book, in that its aim is to defend the state, and seek to perpetuate it.

We see here that the Machiavellian prince is “Machiavellian” or a tyrant indeed, what it means to Machiavelli, is not that the prince does what he wants, according to his whims, his good will, but it is a fragile, having to practice in a fragile world, and dependent on whatever is “on the outside.”

The prince is tripling “dependent”:

– it depends on the constitution;

– it depends on the company, or groups that have favored its access to power;

–  the moods of each class is changing, we must not make its power to the satisfaction of immediate needs (as, in particular, people quickly forget past favors, cf.chapitre XXVII).

If it is to be loved, it must also be above all fear, but for the sake of the length of the state.

The political virtues are therefore aligned with the private virtues of friendship and mutual trust.

This portrait of the Prince has, analysis, and if it refers to the doctrine of the relationship between fortuna and virtu, nothing cynical. Machiavelli insists only that the prince recognizes the mobility of all things, and they also recognizing thereby the need to remain alert to changing circumstances. Giving advice to princes, Machiavelli wants to avoid that the precariousness of their power, in addition to behavior inconsistent with the political space.

Examples of the view that cruelty well used is a political virtue:

– the inhuman cruelty of Hannibal in the war;

– the pacification of the Romagna by Cesare Borgia: to pacify the country, he put his head Ramirro Orco, a man “cruel and expédtif” and gave him full powers. He managed to quickly get a reputation. But then, Caesar thought that such full powers were no longer needed and could make him odious, for he knew that the stringent measures taken by Ramirro had caused some hatred. C. would therefore show that if cruelty had been committed, it was not his fault, but because of the violent nature of his subordinate. He did then cut into two pieces on the main street of the city, next to him with a piece of wood and a bloody knife. The ferocity of this spectacle engendered in the populace a state of satisfaction and amazement.

Machiavelli therefore requires a vigorous and judicious use of both virtue and vice, depending on the circumstances may require. It is the sensible alternative of virtue and vice is “virtue” (virtu). In these passages, therefore, Machiavelli speaks of morality in a totally different way than the classics she opposes the “goodness” …

Extract from The Prince, by Machiavelli:

“A skillful legislator, who intends to serve the common interest and that of the homeland rather than his own and that of his heirs, must use all her industry to attract to itself all the power. A wise man will never condemn someone for exercising a way out of the ordinary rules to set a monarchy or a republic based. What is desirable is that if the accused is the result of excuse if the result is good, he is acquitted, this is the case of Romulus. This is not the violence that restores, but violence should be condemned to ruin. The legislature will have enough wisdom and virtue not to bequeath to others the authority he has taken in hand with men being more prone to evil than good, his successor might misuse of the authority for his part he will have well worn, and in fact one man is capable of forming a government, but the duration is short and the state and its laws if the execution was placed in the hands of a single ; a way to assure it is to entrust the care and custody of many.”

Cite this article as: Tim, "End justifies the Means in Machiavelli’s Philosophy, April 23, 2012, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, April 23, 2012, https://www.the-philosophy.com/end-justifies-means.

Leave a Reply