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The Machiavellian Mute Point

October 5, 2010

In the world of Machiavelli it is understood that ends are the justification and anything done in the pursuit of said ends is completely fine. This leaves on the table basically anything from mass slaughter to the laundering of money; if it helps meet a ruler’s ends then he or she is in the clear concerning the use of such tactics. Machiavelli even goes further to suggest that if a ruler is deciding whether they should be lenient or cruel, cruelty is definitely the way to go.

It is a concept that more is better and that if a ruler is going to be bad, might as well be as bad as the


Why not just find a round piece

y can be. Though in logic this makes perfect sense when applied to the real word a ruler will probably be surprised by the angry mob still waiting outside their castle walls. Yes, it can be assumed that ends that help the state are desirable, but when one goes through excessive means to gain such ends, they still might find themselves at the wrong end of the public attention spectrum.

The concept of ends justify the means is flawed in that it is assumed the ruler is reasonable. When the murder of one is only necessary for said end and the ruler decides to massacre an entire town to achieve the same goal, the mean cannot be justified. Though a ruler can manipulate his constituency, it is impossible to have such an egregious offense over looked.

Instead of preaching a lesson of doing more, Machiavelli should be promoting economical decision making. Efficiency over plain cruelty. The murder of a politician over the murder of a rebel group.  It is in the ruler’s best interest to be as economical as possible with all their decisions, thus reinforcing the amoralism mentality constantly derived from the Machiavellian political world.

It’s not hard to understand that if one is excessive, people will be angry. Not over murder or other moral objections, but the fact that that the ruler is being just plain stupid. So to all aspiring Machiavellian rulers out there, your means will be justified by your ends, as long as they are reasonable and efficient

  1. Stephanie Priel permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:19 PM

    I read your blog and though I understand where you are coming from, I do not think that throughout The Prince Machiavelli implies that it is justified to do whatever is necessary in order to be a ruler. For example, in chapter 8 Machiavelli says that, “one ought not, of course, to call it virtu to massacre one’s fellow citizens, to break one’s words…by such means one can acquire power but not glory.” So, because Machiavelli talks about glory throughout, Machiavelli does not ALWAYS talk about displaying immoral actions in order to be ruler.

    • raymondarroyo permalink
      October 5, 2010 7:45 PM

      thanks for the input!

  2. Kevin Pohl permalink
    October 5, 2010 11:03 PM

    I agree with what Stephanie had said earlier and also remembered one other point from Machiavelli’s Prince. I agree with you when you say Machiavelli teaches that all actions done in pursuit of an end are completely fine, but Machiavelli also says that if the ends are not noble or “virtuous” pursuing those ends will bring shame and condemnation upon the ruler. Machiavelli believed that when trying to achieve a goal anything goes, but only in cases where ends are seen as having virtú.

  3. jptrue permalink
    October 6, 2010 11:06 AM

    I agree with the two posts above. The idea isn’t that when one person needs to be killed, its okay to kill a whole village. This is because it would not be virtuous to do so. If one person needs to be killed in order to achieve some end, yes of course it is okay to do it according to Machiavelli’s logic. But going beyond the scope of the “mean” and killing more people would be a waste of time, resources, and also trigger more problems than needed for the ruler. Thus they would not have virtue.

    Of course, it is important to point out though that the act of killing so many people would be a bad decision, it is not because of any moral grounds. Machiavelli is not interested at analyzing whether decisions are moral or immoral. Just whether they are strategic. Thus, more killing would be bad not because its…well, bad…but because it a waste.

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